As the Director of Team Security for the Atlanta Hawks, Buckhead resident Vince Velazquez’s main job is to ensure the players’ safety throughout their grueling 82-game season.
He began his career in law enforcement as an Atlanta beat cop in the mid-’90s on the fringes of the crack epidemic. After a stint in the narcotics unit, he was promoted to detective and transferred to the homicide division, and his 17 years there working on more than 1,000 murder cases are the subject of the TV One true-crime series ATL Homicide. On the show, Velazquez and his longtime former partner, David Quinn, recount some of their most interesting cases. Season three will debut in June or July.
Your path to law enforcement wasn’t a straight shot, was it?
No. I joined the Air Force at 17 and served for seven years, then went to work for Delta as an aircraft engineer. But law enforcement had always interested me. When I was living in Tampa, I applied to be a cop and at Delta at the same time. After weighing my options, I opted to move to Atlanta to work at Delta. But after five years working the midnight shift, I was unhappy. I realized fixing airplanes was not for me. The law was pulling at me, and I took the test to work with the Atlanta Police Department and began at the academy in 1995. The people at Delta thought I was absolutely off my rocker to leave my position there and take a 75% pay cut.
You and David, your partner on ATL Homicide, transferred to the homicide division at the same time, correct?
Yes, we’ve worked together since day one. Everyone else in the department had been there for 20 years. At first, they stayed away from us and acted like we had the plague. What got us through was our ambition and drive.
How did the show come about?
I starting making appearances on shows like Cold Case Files, America’s Most Wanted and Nancy Grace. Then Angeline Hartmann, the crime reporter at Fox 5, started the show Georgia’s Most Wanted and began working with David and me, and we became close. She told us when we retired we needed to start our own show. So one day we hired a crew and filmed a sizzle reel in my living room in Buckhead. We had interest from the Oxygen and Discovery channels, but they weren’t a fit, and then TV One said they wanted to give us 12 episodes. We’re recounting actual cases we’ve worked on. We appear on the show as narrators, but there are actors portraying us in the reenactments.
What’s the most memorable case you’ve featured on the show?
In season one, we revisited a case involving a murdered woman whose ex-boyfriend had slashed her clothes, stolen her shoes and jumped on the hood of her car. There were tons of circumstantial evidence against him, but he was truly grieving her, so we dug deeper and discovered the real killer was this psychopath. We followed our guts, and thank God we did, otherwise an innocent man would have gone to jail.
What’s your personal mantra?
Hard work is the easy part; doing it right is the hard part. I use that when I’m rushing to get something done instead of doing it slow and right.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’ve had lots of jobs. I was a butcher and worked in construction, a bullet factory and an amusement park. I never could sit still.
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
Award-winning writer and editor who has penned stories for CNN, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and dozens of other outlets.