V.I. Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor announced his retirement Friday, and said he’s leaving government service to spend time with his loved ones.
Meanwhile, a Government House spokesman told The Daily News that reports that Velinor’s contract was not being renewed are false, and praised his tenure as commissioner.
“I have decided that after 30 years in law enforcement, it is time to dedicate more time with my family,” Velinor said. “I am appreciative and humbled by the opportunity to serve my fellow Virgin Islanders.”
Velinor, who was on loan from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives to serve as police commissioner in his native community, said “I am indebted to the Honorable Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. for allowing me to serve in the most critical position as Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department.”
Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. said Bryan is appreciative of Velinor’s service to the Virgin Islands, and commended his efforts over the last two years.
According to Motta, Velinor’s contract expires in July, and he decided not to renew his agreement with the V.I. government, or return to federal service with the ATF.
Velinor, who is from St. Croix, had been on loan from the ATF under an agreement between the federal and local governments under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program.
He served as the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Columbus Field Division in Ohio, and the Southern Judicial District of Indiana.
He was also promoted in 2019 to deputy assistant director of the ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., before departing to become V.I. Police commissioner.
A technicality with the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program required Velinor to assume a lower designation at the ATF in order to be “loaned” to another jurisdiction.
Velinor also worked in the Tampa Field Division and was a first responder to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016.
Motta said Friday that Gov. Bryan has continued to support Velinor’s employment as commissioner, and reports that his contract was not renewed are false.
Velinor said he’s ready to step down after a long career in public service.
“My decision has nothing to do with a contract renewal. It is simply time to serve my family,” Velinor said.
Motta said that while some senators “didn’t take too kind to him” and targeted Velinor for public criticism, Velinor’s efforts over the last two years have resulted in more arrests for violent crime.
“If you look at the data, in the two years he’s been here, certainly the homicide rate didn’t go down, but police made a lot more arrests and took a lot of guns off the street,” Motta said.
The territory’s per capita homicide rate remains one of the highest of any state or territory, a statistic driven by the high number of illegal guns being imported via commercial airlines or the U.S. mail.
During a Senate committee hearing in 2019, when his nomination was being vetted, Velinor said that “when I lived in the territory, there were 24, 18, and 30 homicides in 1999, 2000, and 2001 respectively,” and “then, as it is now, there was outcry and discomfort throughout the community.”
There were 46 gun-related homicides in the territory in 2020, and 40 in 2019. So far this year, there have been 20 homicides territorywide —all shootings — including 17 on St. Croix, two on St. Thomas, and one on St. John.
Motta said Friday that Bryan has not yet nominated a replacement to serve as police commissioner.