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Issued : Sunday, April 8, 2012 08:15 AM
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Police, community group team in Vieques

By CB Online Staff

Vieques Against Crime (VAC), a nonprofit, anti-crime effort on Vieques, announced a joint training session on Monday for English-speaking Puerto Rico PoliceDepartment officers and victims advocacy volunteers from the community on the small island town located several miles off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico.

Fajardo District Commander Antonio Lopez said it’s the first time PRPD has sent officers to the tiny island to participate in training with PRPD personnel on Vieques and local emergency services. On Monday, VAC is sponsoring a victim’s advocacy training session with a famous psychologist and an experienced police incident commander. The goal is to provide more training to the English-speaking police and volunteers who assist victims in the immediate aftermath of a crime, especially in popular tourist areas like Vieques.

“The Puerto Rico Police Department is committed to supporting community groups on Vieques, with the goal of better integrating citizen participation in communities with higher incidences of crime. Community policing promotes effective solutions to these problems, and allows PRPD to be the intermediary between government agencies and the residents of the community who want to do something to solve the problems affecting them,” Lopez said.

While the concept of community policing isn’t new in the United States, this is the first time any non-profit citizens’ organization in Puerto Rico has funded training for PRPD. Police will train with VAC volunteers who will be responding to their calls for assistance with victims at the scene of the crime. The training will provide PRPD and community volunteers with the tools needed to give a compassionate and helpful response in the aftermath of a potentially traumatic event. The goal is to make victims feel safe and secure as they begin the criminal prosecution process.

“We are very lucky to have such a prominent psychologist as a homeowner on our island, and we’re very lucky she’s donating her time to help those of us who live here,” said VAC founder and Vieques Island business owner Sandy Malone.

Sheenah Hankin is a well-respected cognitive psychologist and author who practices on New York's Upper East Side and is regularly featured on television, radio and Internet shows.

Vieques Against Crime (VAC) is a nonprofit, citizen-funded organization dedicated to making Vieques Island the safest Island in the Caribbean.

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