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Governor John P. De Jongh, Jr Nominates Henry White Jr. as the Police Commissioner Designee

November 08, 2011

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The following are the remarks of Governor John P. De Jongh Jr. at the announcement of the nomination of Henry White Jr. as the new Police Commissioner designee and Department of Health Commissioner nominee Dr. Mercedes Dullum.  The announcements were made on Monday, November 7 at Government House on St. Thomas: 

Good Morning.  

I want to begin by thanking all of you for joining us here today as well as those that are in both our viewing and listening audiences. My gratitude is also extended to our health care and public safety professionals in attendance for all of the hard work that you do every day to make our communities both safer and healthier places to live.

I also acknowledge the presence of many of the leaders of our hospitality industry, medical community, retired police officials, the private sector and my Cabinet members who have also taken the time to join us this morning.  

I have repeatedly outlined that as we address the various challenges that we face during these difficult economic times that the consistent themes will focus on public safety, education, healthcare and economic development/small business creation.  Our current discussions with the American Federation of Teachers and the Educational Administrators Association, the smooth opening of our schools for the 2011-2012 school year and the ability to maintain so many programs is an indication of this commitment. The continuing push on our resort projects, the recent award to stimulate small business lending, our downtown development efforts, and discussions with the U.S. Treasury are all geared to providing stability and growth in our market.   

Today, I have an opportunity to bring some permanent leadership to healthcare and public safety.  

I have put a great deal of effort into the researching and interviewing process in order to find the best possible candidates to lead us in the coming years. And I stand before you today confident that we have found two extraordinarily qualified individuals who will not only effectively manage these very important departments but will also help develop the next generation of leadership within these two agencies so that the Virgin Islands is ready for today and for what tomorrow holds.  

However, let me spend a moment to acknowledge the efforts of those individuals who have spent several months leading the Police and Health Departments in an acting capacity while the search was on for the permanent leaders of these two departments. I personally thank Assistant Police Commissioner Raymond L. Hyndman who had recently come out of retirement to assist us in leading the VIPD when I asked him to step into the position and serve as Acting Commissioner.   

As Acting Commissioner, he brought some needed stability and discipline, while ensuring that we continued to provide professional development training to our officers, increase our clearance rate on cold cases, implement the Consent Decree, and provide the requisite guidance to his Chiefs on operational initiatives as we continue to address the level of crime in our community. Assistant Commissioner Hyndman has made it clear to me on several occasions that he is not interested in the permanent commissionership of the Virgin Islands Police Department and at some time in the not too distant future, he would like to resume his retirement.  

Since the resignation of our previous health commissioner, both Assistant Commissioner Fern Clarke and Dr. Marc Jerome have stepped up to lead the department. I thank them all for their efforts in maintaining stability at the helm of this critical department while our search was on for a more permanent solution.  Their guidance in the implementation of Health Reform, evaluation of health technology initiatives and our service delivery with Emergency Medical Services, MCH, and work in our clinics was essential.   

I would also like to thank the employees of each department for the assistance they provided to our previous Acting Commissioners.  

In a moment, I will introduce both Police Commissioner nominee, Henry White, Jr. and Department of Health Commissioner nominee Dr. Mercedes Dullum. They will tell you a bit about themselves and discuss their backgrounds and qualifications for their respective positions. They will also be available to answer questions but before that I would like to take a brief moment to tell you a little bit about these two very qualified nominees.  

Dr. Mercedes Dullum has been a well-known figure in the Virgin Islands medical community for more than a dozen years. Born and raised in Jamaica, she is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, and was named one of the top cardiac surgeons in Washington D.C., where she served as the managing director of a multi-physician, multi- million dollar practice.  Once she left her active surgical practice, she continued in the medical field, gaining valuable experience in healthcare administration as a senior official at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.  

Through her work at Cleveland Clinic, she has fought to reverse healthcare disparities here in the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean. The telemedicine capability at our own Myrah Keating Clinic is but one example of her efforts. Furthermore, she is well-known and well-respected for her leadership in providing education and training opportunities to the V.I. medical community, and has always had a strong focus on quality of care.   

Dr. Dullum will focus on addressing the major challenges and opportunities that exist in the Department of Health – ensuring quality, affordable care to those in the territory; continuing the overhaul of our Medicaid system, consistent with the President's health reform legislation; leveraging our federal grants to enhance the territory's public health delivery system; ensuring the department's full implementation of health "I-T" to facilitate coordinated patient care, communication between public and private providers, and enhance billing for DOH services; and continuing the important work we have begun with the Department of Human Services to enable greater service delivery to clients and beneficiaries of our social programs.  

Mr. Henry White, Jr. comes to us with more than thirty (30) years of Federal and Local law enforcement experience. From his eight (8) years as a Detective and State Investigator in East Orange, New Jersey to his twenty two (22) years as an FBI Special Agent, to his tenure as Chief of Police in McDonough, Georgia, Henry has gained the experience and management skills required to lead the VI Police Department at this critical time.  

He started out as a street cop in urban New Jersey during the late 1960’s, a difficult period in our country’s history, and as a result he understands the very basics of street policing. He worked his way up the chain within the FBI, having worked on some of the most high profile federal task forces where the relationship between federal and local law enforcement was key to success.  

Our police commissioner nominee managed civil rights issues for the Bureau, which makes him acutely aware of the issues VIPD currently faces in relation to the Consent Decree. As a former Police Chief, through experience, he has gained a full understanding of managing budgets, human resources and union matters and has experience with the latest techniques and tactics in policing and law enforcement and the continued professional development of our police force.  He is well poised to lead the Department in addressing the problems of gun crime and the associated challenges of interdiction, domestic and gang violence, and the other incidents of crime that confront the department daily.   

Mr. White begins his tenure as Acting Police Commissioner today and Dr. Dullum will begin her leadership at the Department of Health on December 1. As is the case with my entire cabinet, I have ensured our two nominees that they too will have the full support of my office.  

By the end of the day today, I will formally submit their nominations to the President of the 29th Legislature. I am mindful that the Legislature must conduct its due diligence in reviewing the nominations but at the same time, I implore our elected leaders to expedite their consideration of these nominations so the important work of the Police Department and the Department of Health can advance.  

I ask that you now join me in welcoming both Dr. Mercedes Dullum and Mr. Henry White, Jr.   Again-- they will each make a brief statement and the three of us will be available to take questions from media representatives present.

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