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Breaking News / Crime / Featured / News / Top Stories / Virgin Islands / July 14, 2019

Trevor Velinor, who was nominated by Governor Albert Bryan to lead the police department, and who according to the governor was supposed to be in the territory on June 10, finally made it to the U.S. Virgin  Islands on Thursday via St. Croix, following a protracted delay that has been attributed to issues with an agreement between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the Government of the Virgin Islands under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. The program provides for temporary assignment of personnel between the federal, state and local government. The arrangement is similar to that of then-Dept. of Health Commissioner Michelle Davis, who served under the Mapp administration.

Mr. Velinor, a special agent at ATF, has spent 27 years at the federal agency and served as the special agent in charge of the Columbus Field Division over the state of Ohio and the Southern Judicial District of Indiana. On Friday, he met with Mr. Bryan and Attorney General Denise George to discuss “law enforcement priorities,” according to the administration.

The commissioner nominee is set to hold meetings with V.I.P.D. officials and personnel beginning Monday, The Consortium has learned. His arrival means acting V.I.P.D. Commissioner Jason Marsh relinquishes the role.

Mr. Velinor faces a rather troublesome challenge at the department. Normally, a governor chooses a police commissioner, and the police commissioner, in building his team — an important process in any police force — is given latitude with who should lead the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix districts as chiefs. Mr. Bryan, however, chose a chief for St. Croix before choosing a commissioner of police. He was asked about that decision during an interview with The Consortium two months ago. The governor said he chose William Harvey as St. Croix police chief because he was always a fan of his, having been abreast of Chief Harvey’s work with training police. The governor said he was told by Senator Kenneth Gittens that Mr. Harvey might be interested in the role, so he reached out to Mr. Harvey.

“He really wanted to be the chief so I was like great, I made that move.” Mr. Bryan also appointed a deputy police commissioner, Celvin Walwyn, who is in charge of police operations.

“Everything else we’ve kind of left alone,” Mr. Bryan said. Asked if he had any concerns about choosing such critical enforcement position without the input of the person who was appointed to lead the force, Mr. Bryan said no. “He still has the ability to assign an assistant commissioner, St. Thomas chief, the deputy commissioners in the police force,” the governor said of Mr. Velinor.

Structural setup issues aside, Mr. Velinor is facing a territorial homicide crime rate that has been unabated for years. According to statistics provided by the police force in June, the territory saw 21 homicides for the year compared to 19 last year during the period of January-June. For both years between Jan.-June, St. Croix led the count with 12 homicides in 2018 compared to St. Thomas’ 7, and 12 homicides in 2019 compared to St. Thomas’ 9. St. John, during the same time period for both years had no homicides.

Mr. Velinor, who grew up in the Harbor View Apartments on St. Croix, said in the Government House release announcing his appointment that it was a rare opportunity to come back to the Virgin Islands “to work with the men and women of V.I.P.D. and the community to enhance public safety in the territory.”

“I thank Governor Bryan for this opportunity, and I appreciate his vision of collaboration and accountability in addressing violent crime,” he added.

Feature Image: Governor Albert Bryan, Attorney General Denise George, and V.I.P.D. Commissioner Nominee Trevor Velinor met at Government House on Friday to discuss what the administration deemed “law enforcement priories.” (Credit: Government House).

Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

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