ST. CROIX–The Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, received testimony on Monday in the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Conference Center, VI Cardiac Center, St. Croix on the nomination of Trevor A. Velinor, Commissioner Nominee to the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD).
In his testimony, Velinor said that he has served as a law enforcement professional at the Federal level and has completed various law enforcement and leadership training throughout his years in the profession.
With a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in Public Administration along with years of AFT’s administrative experience, Velinor said, the VIPD purpose is to ensure public safety by protecting people and property, detect and arrest criminal offenders, and enforce the laws of the Virgin Islands.
According to the Commissioner Nominee, the greatest challenge in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and what has steered him to consider serving in the capacity of Commissioner is the issue of violent crime. He added that, to address the adverse impact of violent crime, particularly where firearms are used, requires a comprehensive and focused approach in pursuit of the worst of the offenders.
He said he will advocate for using all resources to investigate and prosecute recidivists and violent offenders.
Accordingly, he will plan to work tirelessly with all federal and local law enforcement to leverage their resources to ensure that individuals who unlawfully possess and use firearms receive the fullest impact of the law, whether in Federal or Territorial Court.
Velinor told the Committee that technology and investigative competence must merge together to surgically remove the trigger pullers from our community. He pointed out that Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) is a digital image system that matches ballistic evidence to firearms. This, he added, allows investigators to determine if specific firearms are used in multiple shooting incidents.
The Commissioner Nominee emphasized that leveraging technology with traditional investigative techniques can result in optimizing their ability to proactively pursue the worst of the worst offenders—the trigger pullers.
He told the Committee that VIPD is critically understaffed. He added that each district needs approximately 100 more police offers per district to become minimally appropriately staffed.
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Furthermore, staffing deficiency poses a potential threat to our police officers and community.
According to the Nominee, to have enough coverage, officers are working longer hours with less rest; and VIPD desperately needs to increase the number of officers on the force. So, they have had meetings with local partners and federal partners to discuss a Virgin Islands Violent Crime Initiative, and as of now, they are working on details of this initiative that bring peace officers together to work on crime reduction.
Speaking on his strategic plans, Velinor said he will engage in strategic planning sessions to address their mission, values, vision, and goals. The strategic plan will outline how the department intends to achieve its overall mission. Therefore, updating their strategic plan requires all command levels to participate, as the plan affects their entire department.
According to the Nominee, to build trust both internally and externally he will: (1) Have town hall meetings with commissioners; (2) Officers Patrol—walk/talk/listen; (3) Decrease Barriers like getting rid of the barriers between the officers and our community (4) Hear from their chiefs; and (5) Develop a Citizen Academy.
He pointed out that, to become more effective requires discipline, professionalism, accountability, execution, and communication. “I will hold myself and the men and women of VIPD accountable,” said Velinor.
The Committee voted in favor of the nominee and sent his name to the Committee of the Whole for further consideration.
Committee members at Monday’s nomination hearing were Chairwoman Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, Myron D. Jackson, Kenneth L. Gittens, Steven D. Payne, Alicia V. Barnes, and Novelle E. Francis, Jr. Non-Committee member was Senator Oakland Benta. fffffffffff