The Community Integration Team meets monthly at the St. John Rescue Building in Gift Hill. (Source photo taken from Bob Malacarne, President of STJ Rescue, in 2021 by Amy H. Roberts)

St. John residents who have concerns about public safety – or practical ideas on how to improve the community – are invited to share their thoughts with the St. John’s Community Living Team.

Their next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21. Email [email protected] for details of this week’s meeting or to suggest a topic for the agenda.

The team includes business owners, community group representatives, government officials, clergy, and retired and serving law enforcement officers.

In addition to the COVID pandemic, the St. John team has met monthly to discuss everything from break-in reports and efforts to remove abandoned vehicles to sponsoring events like car registration fairs. summer camps and “bush tea with a cop”.

Community Integration Teams were formed on each island approximately 15 years ago under the DeJongh administration to bridge the gap between the VI Police Department and community members.

The team was formed following a series of violent crimes and racial tensions that rocked the normally peaceful island.

Only the St. John team remains active, according to Linda Bechstein, who served as its president for most of that time. She had retired from the Bowling Green, Ohio, police department in 2002 as a lieutenant before moving to St. John in 2004.

Linda Bechstein chairs the St. John’s Community Living Team. (Source photo by Lynda Lohr)

“We wanted people to know we were meeting, and if there’s a problem, reach out to one of us or come to a meeting to share their thoughts,” Bechstein said. “Members are a huge hub of the St. John community. Therefore, someone from the community integration team is usually aware of the issues. Our meetings are not an open forum, but everyone is welcome to voice their concerns.

Meetings are usually held every third Wednesday at St. John Rescue headquarters on Gifft Hill.

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