Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2001
Release #280-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins
(212) 788 - 2958
View Mayor's
  Jack Ryan (Probation) (212) 232 - 0684
Press Conference


Mayor Giuliani today appointed Roberto Velez as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. Mr. Velez replaces Commissioner Raul Russi who retired last May.

"Roberto's understanding of the law and his commitment to public service make him uniquely qualified to lead the Department of Probation," Mayor Giuliani said. "Roberto played a key role in numerous initiatives that have dramatically improved the way the Probation Department carries out its vital mission. He helped design and win community support for Operation Neighborhood Shield, an initiative that has put the New York City Department of Probation on the forefront of community corrections in the nation. I'm confident that Roberto will continue to build upon the Probation Department's many accomplishments and I look forward to working with him."

"I want to thank Mayor Giuliani for giving me the chance to lead the dedicated men and women who serve this city at the Department of Probation, " said Mr. Velez. "This administration has reduced crime to a level that no one thought possible. I look forward to working with the Mayor to make certain that Probation does all that it can to reduce crime even further."

Mr. Velez first joined the Department of Probation in August 1998 and served for two years as Chief of Staff to Commissioner Russi. He left Probation to serve as the Assistant Executive Director of The Door, a nonprofit, multi-service youth development agency. He returned to Probation in March 2001 to serve as General Counsel. Prior to that, he served as Assistant Commissioner for Legal Matters and Chief of Staff at the Department of Consumer Affairs and Chief of Staff at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In addition to the regular duties of the General Counsel, Mr. Velez served as the commissioner's liaison to elected officials and community leaders in precincts where the department was preparing to introduce Operation Neighborhood Shield. Neighborhood Shield is an innovative, community-based program that provides intensive supervision of high-risk offenders by probation and police officers.

Mr. Velez is a graduate of Columbia College and received his law degree from the New York University School of Law. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and was the 1992 recipient of the Legal Aid Society Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service. Roberto is married to Natalie Gomez-Velez, an attorney with the New York State Attorney General's Office. They have one daughter, Noelle. Roberto is a lifelong resident of the Bronx.