St. John Tradewinds News

St. John Chamber Works on Island Crime, Tourism Issues

The St. John Chapter members of the STT/STJ Chamber of Commerce discuss the issue of crime on St. John at the January 22 meeting.

Cruz Bay has six surveillance cameras, all of whose data can be viewed at the V.I. Police Department’s Leander Jurgen Command, and while there’s not been a dedicated monitor since the cameras were installed approximately five years ago, monitoring of the cameras on St. John has been better than on other islands.

The St. John Chapter of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce learned this and other pertinent information at its Tuesday evening, January 22, meeting, where the group discussed crime and tourism issues on St. John.
Local ADT franchise owner Barry Broome delivered a report on the security cameras in Cruz Bay, which his company installed and continues to maintain.

Prosecutions Secured Thanks to Cameras
The cameras, which are primarily located at intersections and look to the north, east, south and west 24 hours a day, have helped secure two or more prosecutions, and video evidence is being used in at least two current cases, Broome explained.

Security cameras in Cruz Bay are located across the street from the Leander Jurgen Command, at FirstBank, the ferry dock, the Customs parking lot and across the street from Stone Terrace.

VIPD Commissioner James McCall and Governor John deJongh recently asked ADT to fix the cameras, which the company is in the process of doing, according to Broome.

“The cameras are not recording now, but they could be,” he said. “McCall understands how valuable the cameras are. Our biggest problem right now is that we only have a 480 gigabyte hard drive, and we need a lot more to store a month’s recording.”

With the current system, approximately 10 to 12 days of footage could be stored, and video of crimes could be archived. The cameras record during the day and night, however the less light there is in the recording area, the lower quality the video will be.

Cameras To Be Fixed Shortly
“The police need to find people to dedicate to the system and find the money to maintain them,” said Broome. “There’s been very little maintenance of them.”

Broome planned to send some of his ADT employees to St. John this week to work on getting the cameras up to par. The ADT owner asked Chamber members where else on St. John cameras are necessary, and the group responded with a long list including Pine Peace, South Shore Road near St. Ursula’s, Nature’s Nook, and in Coral Bay at the dock area, the road to East End and the road that continues through Coral Bay to the south.

Following Broome’s presentation, Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Manager James Latham discussed the project’s recent crime prevention initiatives, including Speak Your Peace and Draw Against Gun Violence. There was little to no response from St. John students in both contests, according to Latham.

“The project lacked a St. John response,” said Latham. “We have a lot of plans and ideas, and we’re trying to involve the business community. We need someone from St. John involved in this.”

Latham asked Chamber members to help develop the infrastructure needed to distribute materials such as the Speak Your Peace CD featuring songs against violence by island youth, which will soon be released.

Positive Tourism Response
On a lighter note, Debbie Hime and Cid Hamling reported on their Tuesday, January 22, meeting with V.I. Department of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

“We asked her how we can enhance the welcoming experience for tourists, and she was so open to everything we brought up,” said Hime. “We brought up the idea of an exit interview on how to improve the island for tourists, and she asked us for ideas on compiling welcome packages. We can do a lot with this.”

The local Chamber of Commerce chapter added developing a welcome package to its list of priorities.

The next St. John Chapter meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, February 19 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Ursula’s multi-purpose center. For more information, email stjohnchapter@gmail.com.