ST. CROIX- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Senator Milton E. Potter convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. Lawmakers voted favorably for the nomination of Ray Martinez to serve as the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and the re-nomination of Oran Roebuck to the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees to serve for the second term. Additionally, senators voted on several bills.
VIPD Commissioner Nominee Ray Martinez noted that he possesses the knowledge and leadership abilities to effectively lead the VIPD. His primary goal is to move forward with crime prevention tactics. As of July 2021, some of his accomplishments are inclusive of meetings to strengthen relations with unions regarding the 12-hour shift stipulation and federal law enforcement partners. To increase police presence on the waters and shorelines, Martinez indicated that he approved the purchase of additional marine assets to include three vessels for shore patrols. He noted that VIPD initiatives currently in progress are the Violent Crime Reduction Strategy with a focus on crime reduction and ongoing negotiations with Skywatch a company that produces deterrent towers and mobile surveillance.
Despite achievements, Martinez stated that more work needs to be done. Challenges facing the VIPD are the lack of manpower and a rise in crime in the Territory. Furthermore, Martinez’s actionable recommendations to improve VIPD operations consist of implementing a vacation schedule, establishing an Intelligence Unit with the New York Police Department, and case management. Senator Potter advised the nominee that VIPD engage and build relationships with residents by participating in community service in neighborhoods. “There are talks about community policing, but I have not seen it. Fostering a good relationship with the community, will assist in crime reduction,” Potter said. Separately, Nominee Oran Roebuck noted that her contributions have yielded several accomplishments. Some of them are the re-affirmation of Accreditation of the University in 2017, the opening of the Childcare Laboratory and Diagnostic Centers on Orville Kean Campus, and the expansion of UVI Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning, according to Roebuck. Both nominations were approved and forwarded to the full Body for further consideration.
Lastly, the following measures were held in committee:
• Bill No. 34-0047- An Act requiring the Department of Agriculture and the University of the Virgin Islands to create a plan to develop a Community Seed Banking Program to store and preserve seeds for preservation against climate change, natural disasters, and other situations that could lead to total annihilation of crops, plants and other fauna and flora.
• Bill No. 34-0062- An Act amending Title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 65a relating to filling vacancies on boards and commissions by adding subsection (g) to require memberships on boards and commissions to be gender balanced.
However, lawmakers voted and approved the following:
• Bill No. 34-0074- A Resolution honoring and commending Holland L. Redfield II posthumously for his expansive and continued contributions to the island of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands community through his roles in various areas of service in the Territory and awarding him the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor for Public Service posthumously.
Senators attending the meeting: Milton E. Potter, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Kenneth L. Gittens, Carla J. Joseph, Sammuel Carrión, Kurt A. Vialet, Franklin D. Johnson, Geneveive R. Whitaker, and Steven D. Payne.