Virgin Islands Police Department Achieves Substantial Compliance with Policing Consent Decree
St. Thomas, USVI – The Justice Department announced today that the federal district court for the District of the Virgin Islands yesterday found the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) in substantial compliance with a consent decree relating to VIPD’s use of force practices. The consent decree requires VIPD to now maintain compliance for a period of two years. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the Virgin Islands have worked cooperatively throughout the duration of this matter.
The consent decree was entered in 2009 to address allegations of a pattern or practice of uses of force by VIPD officers that deprived persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. Pursuant to the consent decree, VIPD reviewed and revised its use of force policies, improved force investigations, modified its citizen complaint process, updated its risk management system, and provided more training to its officers. VIPD also worked closely with a court-appointed Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) to ensure full implementation of the consent decree.
"The Department of Justice applauds the Virgin Islands Police Department for implementing reforms that protect constitutional rights while enhancing the safety of police officers and the public," said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. "The court’s finding that VIPD is in substantial compliance with the consent decree is an important step, and we are pleased with the fundamental changes that VIPD has made to its practices and procedures. We will continue to monitor VIPD’s progress over the next two years to ensure that these changes are sustained and that the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands receive the effective, constitutional policing that they deserve."
"Completion of this portion of the consent decree process is vitally important to the future of the Territory," said U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert. "We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of so many VIPD officers who have worked to ensure that constitutional policing is the policy for law enforcement in the Virgin Islands. Today’s finding by the District Court underscores VIPD’s commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans, as Territorial officers work to enhance public safety."
U.S. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez announced in open court that the Virgin Islands Police Department has achieved substantial compliance with the terms of the consent decree and that VIPD will commence the two-year sustainment period. Judge Gomez congratulated the VIPD for achieving substantial compliance, noting in particular the contributions of Assistant Commissioner Curtis Griffin, Chief Compliance Manager for implementation of the consent decree. Judge Gomez also expressed appreciation for the work of the IMT and their "hands-on approach."