The V.I. Police Department welcomed 17 new peace officers from the Recruit Training Class of 2022, after they took their oath of office on Tuesday in the presence of their families, colleagues and a number of high-ranking officials at the D.C. Canegata Ballpark on St. Croix. An event for new recruits will be held in the St. Thomas-St. John District today.
Judge Alphonso Andrews administered the oath of office where the recruits swore to serve and protect the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The “Eagle Knights Recruit Class” as they have been dubbed, committed to serve across all seven law enforcement departments which includes the V.I. Police Department; V.I. Bureau of Corrections; V.I. Dept. of Justice; Juan F. Luis Hospital; Office of the VI Marshal; V.I. Lottery and the V.I. Port Authority.
Among the brightest of them are Peace Officers George Cleeny and Arsdale Cyril who achieved the highest academic scores in the class. For that, they were awarded the Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) prize which will pay for them to further their education and training.
Officer Cleeny was also named the top academic recruit having achieved the highest test scores, quizzes, scenarios and exam grades and was awarded the student leadership award for his work in bridging the gap between the cadres (police trainers) and the recruits.
Cara Williams and Akeelo Brookes received awards for highest achievement in physical fitness; La-Kweisha Nurse, Inais Borque, and Matthew Cundiff were awarded the highest firearm awards; and the most determined award went to Katrina Joseph for her perseverance during the six-month training.
Mr. Cundiff also won the Commissioner’s Award which is presented to the recruit with the highest overall average in academic, physical fitness and firearms training, while Deputy Marshall Daisy Ramos was presented with a token of appreciation for showing initiative during the training.
Deputy Chief of Police Uston Cornelius said the award recognized Ms. Ramos’s willingness to rally the recruits to repair a well at the Patrick Sweeney headquarters, refurbish and repaint the graves of fallen officers at the Kingshill Cemetery, and refurbish the flag post at the training office.
“For the initiative taken by this individual without being told to do it, from the chief’s office, the training staff, we decided to call that officer up and give her a token of our appreciation for all she has done without being told,” Dep. Chief Cornelius said.
While Tuesday marked a celebratory event, several of the day’s speakers reminded the new officers that their duty to serve and protect the territory had just begun.
“Today is your commitment to this community; don’t disappoint just,” remarked Training Officer of the Information Commissioner (OIC), Captain Maria Colon-Wattley, before making the presentation of the awards.
Dep. Chief Cornelius told the new officers that they will now be held at a higher standard in accordance with the powers that their titles hold.
“You will soon be able to detain someone and take their freedom away with probable cause. The public will be scrutinizing everything you do and for good reason,” he said.
“Things you used to do, you might not be able to do them anymore; places you used to go, you would not be able to go there anymore; and the friends you have, some of them you might just have to stay clear of,” he warned.
“You’re an extension of me and I you. Our actions or inactions cross paths and affect each other positively and negatively,” added VIPD Police Commissioner Ray Martinez.
Keynote speaker Antonio Emmanuel, executive director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, imparted his 40+ years of experience as a law enforcement officer, cautioning the new officers about the magnitude of the “human condition” that they will encounter in their line of duty.
“Every day is going to be a different day and you have free front sets to the greatest show on earth…This job is going to be like no other. Some of this stuff, you just cannot make up. Some of it will be amazing, feeling you with joy, make you proud; some of it will be absolutely hilarious and you can’t wait to get home to tell you loved ones about it; while some of it, will damn-near make you want to quit,” he said.
With all this in mind, he thanked the new officers, who he said still chose to become law enforcement officers in spite of the climate.
Governor Albert Bryan Jr, 34th Legislature Vice President Novelle Francis Jr. and Senator Javan James were among the special invited guests.
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