Dec. 31, 2004 After dedicating 31 years of his life to public service, Virgin Islands Port Authority police Chief McKinley Welsh retired Friday.
According to acting VIPA Police Chief Kevin Hewitt, Welsh started his career in the V.I. Department of Public Safety in 1967, where he served as the training director for 21 years. Welsh then spent a few years working in private industry, until he was hired by VIPA.
When Welsh first started with VIPA, there was no police department. He was brought on as a safety and security officer, while law enforcement duties were contracted out to off-duty Virgin Islands police officers.
"We always had inherent problems with that," David Mapp, VIPA's assistant executive director, said. "Shifts would be canceled; officers had to be approved. Sometimes we were left with no officers on duty. VIPA felt that in order to prevent us from violating security, it was time to employ its own police officers."
Welsh transitioned from safety and security officer to police chief, bringing many years of law enforcement experience into his new office. During his career he is credited for taking things from the discussion stage to implementation.
"He was a huge asset to VIPA. After 9/11, there were changes in air and marine security. He led the efforts to get the Virgin Islands up to standards set by the Department of Homeland Security," Mapp said. "Realistically, Welsh, because of his knowledge, was always the lead guy."
Dec. 31 was Welsh's official last day with VIPA, but he took the last week off to enjoy the holidays.
"He was a hard worker, dedicated to the law enforcement profession. He always shared his knowledge, which helped me get to where I am today," Hewitt said. "I wish him well in his retirement. His help and knowledge have helped me better my career."
According to Hewitt, VIPA Police Department is responsible for safety and security of the ports of the Virgin Islands. The law enforcement unit has the same safety responsibilities as the insular police department. VIPA Police officers also enforce Marine and Coast Guard regulations.
There is no word on when a permanent police chief will be named.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.