ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Nine federal law enforcement officers received commissions as Virgin Islands Peace Officers today after
attending an orientation on Virgin Islands history and culture at the Police
Training Academy on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl
Walker announced. Commissions
were awarded to three agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), three from
the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and three from Homeland Security
“Today, we have
created a much closer bond with our federal law enforcement partners by
granting them commissions to serve as Virgin Islands Peace Officers,” AG Walker
said. “This is a historic day in the
Territory because this is the first time that commissions have been granted
since the Legislature passed the law making this possible. The Legislature enacted a law granting such
powers to federal law enforcement officers, provided that they attend
orientation on VI culture and law conducted by the Attorney General’s
office. Agents receiving their
commissions now have authorization to enforce local criminal laws, including
the power to make arrests for violation of Virgin Islands laws, in addition
their federal police powers.”
The training was
planned by AG Walker, in conjunction with Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett
and VIPD Commissioner Delroy Richards.
AG Walker, Acting U.S. Attorney Hewlett and St. Thomas-St. John Police
Chief Jason Marsh were present at the orientation ceremony.
ceremony, Glen “Kwabena” Davis, a noted Virgin Islands historian and cultural
icon, highlighted significant aspects of Virgin Islands’ history and culture.
“We are a people
who have made quite an impact on the world by virtue of the number of people
who have passed through here,” Davis told the gathering, as he recited a
chronology of events – which began circa 1200 up to the 1970s – that shaped the
Territory’s history and culture.
At the end of
the orientation, AG Walker presented each federal officer with a commission and
conveyed to them that Gov. Kenneth Mapp is very supportive of the initiative.
“It should not
have taken so long for local police powers to be conferred upon you,” AG Walker
said. “With these commissions, you now have full authority, as Virgin Islands
Peace Officers to go out and enforce Virgin Islands local laws. So, I encourage you to use this status to proactively
fight crime in the territory.”
An act of the
Virgin Islands Legislature, Title 23 Virgin Islands Code § 3, enacted on Sept.
17, 2012, has granted authority to the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands
Police Department to issue commissions as Virgin Islands Peace Officers to
certain federal law enforcement officers of certain federal agencies. The Legislature provided that law enforcement
officers of the following federal agencies may be commissioned as Virgin
Islands Peace Officers – Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration;
U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms;
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Marshals Services; and U.S.
Attorney’s Office, the VI Attorney General’s Office and the VI Police
Department entered into a written Memorandum of Understanding on the procedures
to be followed on the issuance and revocation of commissions and the respective
rights and responsibilities of the parties. A federal law enforcement officer
who is granted a commission is recognized and authorized to act as a Virgin
Islands Peace Officer to enforce local laws in the Virgin Islands, including
the power to make arrests for violation of Virgin Islands laws. Any federal law
enforcement officer granted a commission may use any reasonable force which the
officer reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself, or another
person, from bodily harm, while making a lawful arrest.
reasonable force may also be used, when necessary, to arrest any felon fleeing
from justice, when the officer reasonably believes either that the fleeing
felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others
or that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or
threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.
exercise is also being planned for federal officers in the St. Croix district.
“We are near
completion of plans to conduct a similar orientation very shortly in the
district of St. Croix so that our federal law enforcement partners in that
district may also receive peace officer status,” AG Walker said.