St. John Community Crisis Center representatives returned to St. John last month from a St. Croix domestic violence training conference armed with a renewed sense of motivation and ready to step up their services to victims of domestic violence by working hand in hand with the V.I. Police Department.
The three-day conference, entitled “Domestic Violence: Basic Principles, Concepts and Enforcement Strategies” was hosted by the V.I. Department of Justice in conjunction with the National Institute of Crime Prevention February 21-23 on St. Croix.
“The training was done by a couple of retired police officers from Tampa Florida, who did pioneer work in Tampa on domestic violence,” said SJCCC program manager Don Turner, who attended the conference along with SJCCC director Shelley Williams. “They were very good role models for the Virgin Islands policemen who were in attendance.”
Information Sharing with VIPD
Strategies to more effectively deal with domestic violence in the criminal justice system were discussed at the conference, along with how domestic violence affects children in the home. Participants also learned what can cause domestic violence to escalate into homicide, and how victims and police officers can work together to prevent domestic homicides from happening.
While no police officers from St. John were at the training conference, Turner looks forward to sharing the information he learned with VIPD St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy, he explained.
“We have specific plans this year to collaborate more closely with the VIPD on St. John,” said Turner. “We’ve made some initial contacts with Deputy Chief Foy and he has been very positive and supports the idea. I’ve asked the Attorney General’s office for copies of the materials used at the conference so I can pass those on directly to the police officers.”
Turner hopes to facilitate an environment where SJCCC representatives and local VIPD officers can sit down and discuss issues surrounding domestic violence. The officers want to help but often get frustrated, he explained.
“I think a lot of times, police officers get a negative rap for not being responsive enough to domestic violence, when they really want to help,” said Turner. “They just get frustrated with the dynamics that go along with the crime. This information will help them understand those dynamics in a better way, and also give them a chance to express their feelings on it.”
Turner commended the Attorney General’s office for providing “excellent training,” and specifically applauded Aquinette Clarke, who coordinated the details of the conference including transportation and meals for participants.
Attorney General Vincent Frazer felt the training was necessary in light of the prevalence of domestic violence incidents in the V.I., according to a Government House press release. A total of 41 people from all three islands participated in the training.
“Participants left the training with an understanding of the need for all of us in the community to do our part and work together with others to address this evil in the Virgin Islands community,” said Frazer in the press release.