Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Banks Holds Briefing on Public Safety in New York City

December 1, 2023

Deputy Mayor Philip Banks, III, Public Safety: So, good afternoon, everybody. My name is Phil Banks. I'm the deputy mayor for Public Safety and this is what I've been told to say: there's a saying that an informed customer is a happy customer and we're going to take that and switch it around that an informed citizen is a safer citizen.

And to that end, we'll be holding regular meetings to keep you informed of what the city is doing to keep you safe. And you can tune into the Mayor's Office social media pages, wherever you're watching this right now, to hear directly from the leaders in charge of protecting our city about the services that agency provides, what programs they offer, what's new and some tips to keep you and your family safe.

So we're here today to talk about the Department of Probation and the critical role that it plays in the criminal justice system. They are the ones who work with people who have been just as involved to not only hold them accountable but also to make sure that they have a chance to succeed, and that is very, very important. Ultimately, their work results in a safer community for all of us.

So, I'm joined here today by Juanita Holmes, who's the commissioner of the Department of Probation, former colleague of mine. We worked together for many, many years. She will be introducing her staff.

And just by way of background, Commissioner Holmes served three decades in the NYPD, where she was the first African‑American woman to serve as a borough commander and the first woman to ever serve as the chief of patrol. And the chief of patrol is in charge of all of the… Think about all of the precincts in the city. They all come up the line and they report to the chief of patrol.

She also previously served as a commanding officer of the Domestic Violence Unit, the School Safety Division, the chief of training prior to becoming the Probation commissioner, and she brings a wealth of experience to this department. So, now I'm going to turn it over to you, Commissioner Holmes, to be able to explain to the citizens here exactly what probation does, how do they contribute to the fabric of the city?

I know that you have a host of your senior leadership here who I'm very familiar with, and I know that we are all interested in giving this really bird's eye view about what's going on in Probation. So, good afternoon and talk to us.

Commissioner Juanita Holmes, Department of Probation: Thank you, DM. Good afternoon. I'm Juanita N. Holmes, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. Also here with me today are the following key members of our leadership team: Deputy Commissioner of Strategic Initiatives Robert Maldonado, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Operations Lisa Frost, Associate Commissioner of Adult Operations Robert Eusebio and General Counsel Bridget Hamblin.

Today we will be defining the role that the Department of Probation serves in the criminal justice system. Probation's core function is to reduce recidivism with the hopes of improving public safety. Probation is an alternative to incarceration where an individual is sentenced by a judge to community corrections.

Unlike parole, which serves individuals who were sentenced to incarceration and released early, the Department of Probation currently has a staffing level of approximately 900 members with a total of 490 probation officers who each manage a caseload of 40‑plus clients.

Probation processes over 40,000 individuals a year. It consists of the following two components that supervises over 14,000 individuals: adult operations accounts for 13,000 plus, juvenile operation accounts for 500. These numbers are indicative of the importance of proper client assessments being conducted; in turn, allowing for the appropriate programs and services to be provided.

Several of these programs are provided at our seven NeON centers throughout New York City. NeON centers are strategically placed in communities where a large number of our clients reside. NeONs are not only used by clients, but also by many residents in New York City.

What many of you may not know is that the Department of Probation serves over 40,000 meals a month to members of the community, compliments of our food pantries.

In addition to programs… I'm sorry. In addition, programs are also provided via collaboration with many other city agencies and non‑for‑profits. I would like to now turn it over to our Acting Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Operations, Lisa Frost, and she'll give us a brief overview of the juvenile process.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Lisa Frost, Juvenile Operations, Department of Probation: Thank you, commissioner. Good afternoon. Nearly all young people between the age of 12, less than 18, come through our front door once they are arrested. To put that into perspective, from January to now, we have conducted over 6,500 intake interviews with young people.

An intake interview consists of a probation officer interviewing a young person, their parent. We reach out to the victim as well as the arresting officer and we also reach out to their schools as well as any program that they may be involved in in the community. Why do we do this? This is for us to make an assessment if this young person is suitable and eligible to be [diverted] from court and we can monitor them in the community.

Some of the things that we consider when we are making that decision is the young person's risk factors, the safety to the community, the victim's input and the young person's willingness to cooperate with interventions. During this process, we have 90 days to work with this young person. If additional time is needed, we have an additional 20 days with notifying the court.

The purpose of diversion is to support the young person by providing services, also holding that young person accountable for their actions, as well as deter them for further contact in the juvenile justice system. Between January and the present, we have opened over 1,600 diversion cases, with 700 of those being raised to age youth.

Commissioner Holmes: Lisa, can you tell us a little bit about the diversion cases when it comes to the criminal justice system? How does it reflect the young adult? In other words, young adults that are recommended for diversion are pretty much taken out of the criminal justice system?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Yes, that is correct. So, with the diversion, we're looking at how can we hold the young person accountable without pushing them further through the justice system. We have dedicated probation officers that are working with these young people in the community. We are providing programs for them, we are connecting with those programs to make sure that they are cooperating and they're getting the best services to help them thrive in the community and not return.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you, Lisa. I think… 

Deputy Mayor Banks: Lisa, I'm sorry. How long have you been with probation?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: 28 years.

Deputy Mayor Banks: 28 years, right?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Okay, very good. Okay.

Commissioner Holmes: Yes. I think the most important thing there is removing the young person out of the criminal justice system, which is what we aim to do. So, that assessment in the beginning is critical. And also, there are two other points. When a young person can be referred or recommended for diversion, even though they may be referred by the probation officer to the corp counsel, the corp counsel can turn around and say, nope, we don't agree with this. We want them to go back and you now reconsider them for the diversion program.

Same thing. If it reaches all the way up to a judge, a judge can turn around and say, no, we want this person considered for a diversion program. So, I think that's critical to the work that we do. Thank you, Lisa. Robert, now our Associate Commissioner of Adult Operations. I'd like to turn it over to you for a brief overview of the adult process.

Associate Commissioner Robert Eusebio, Adult Operations, Department of Probation: Thank you, Commissioner Holmes. So, good afternoon, everyone. Adult supervision or probation as we call it, I'm going to throw some things for us to keep in perspective. We meet, we assess, we connect and we support people for professional growth.

What that means is when someone come through a door through investigation where we assess nearly 30,000 cases a year — that's the average investigations that we do — we do an assessment of someone to help the judge make judicial decision as to whether this person can be safely supervised in the community.

Assuming that a decision is made for this person to be in the community, then our supervision team kicks in. Part of that is to assess what are the risk levels, what are the things that we need to focus at work to make sure that this person can successfully get through this journey, cooperation. As part of that, we use validated instruments to make sure that we look at what are the things that out of this person's life that we need to focus on to reduce the risk of them coming back into the system. That is, by definition, what our intake looks like.

Our supervision process, which can be anyone can be on probation from a year to up to 10 years, depending on what type of offenses. We have, different things to meet their needs. And along that, let me remind you, a Neighborhood Opportunity Network or NeON is the model that we use by providing services to those people on probation in their community, connecting them to viable resources.

Under the vision of Commissioner Holmes, we have taken a deeper dive to look at what are the things that we as a department can do better in the front end while we're assessing looking at what are the things that we're doing, what are the metrics of that. And as we go through the probation process, continue to support the person so they can safely be in the community.

Let me throw a number out of for everyone to sort of assess, we have 12,000 people to 13,000 people on probation at any given day. That constitutes three times the population at Rikers. So, that means what? We have dedicated members of the Department of Probation who give their best each day to make sure that we can safely walk through our city while yet providing opportunities to those that are on probation to be able to get off the system and continue with their life. I am there, commissioner.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you, Robert. Robert, also you wanted to speak about some of the things that we're doing new like the exit interviews or some different variables that have been added to the entry assessments as well.

Associate Commissioner Eusebio: So, currently we have a work group really looking in a more intentional way, when someone comes through the door, we often overlook the fact that… We look, what are the tangible things also that we can sort of look and assess and be able to tell the community these are things that we're doing that people may not realize.

From getting a New York City ID when you never had one to having a resume to being connected now to your family and then having healthy conversations with your family, being connected to your community in a different way, being able to get not just a job, careers.

One of the things Commissioner Holmes has been big on is, not just jobs, let's look at what are things that we can do so that they can be connected to union jobs. From CDL classes which we're starting internally, to things like we have something called NeON photography which is also another opportunity for someone to develop the skills as a photographer.

So, all these things if you put it all in perspective is part of the body of the work of our department, which essentially we are in the business of keeping our communities safe by connecting our people to meaningful things they can do in the community.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you, Robert. And also our perspective that we developed together, this is my perspective. As long as we have them it should be where we're doing our best to make sure that when they leave us they are at least up to standard.

What I think a lot of people don't realize is that a lot of our clients are under credited or behind in grade, unemployed. And with that, we want to make sure that we have meaningful programs and services to offer them where they can leave us and still be in a better place. Thank you.

I'll now turn it over to a Deputy Commissioner Robert Maldonado who's overseeing strategic initiative. This is a new position that was created under my leadership as a result of me having a strong interest in making sure that we get it right with the programs and services that are afforded to our clients.

So, Robert's been tasked with a number of many things, but more importantly, program evaluations, research assessment, things of that nature. So, Robert, do you want to give us a little overview?

Deputy Commissioner Robert Maldonado, Strategic Initiatives, Department of Probation: Sure. Consistent with Commissioner Holmes' vision, we're tracking the success rate of our programs as they relate to recidivism, educational attainment and employment. In my capacity, I'm responsible for ensuring that our programs and services are consistently aligned with our clients' needs, thereby guaranteeing their effectiveness.

We've established key performance indicators that support successful outcomes. These key performance indicators will help guide our decision-making, ensuring that our resources are used effectively and that we're making a real difference. They're not just numbers, they're milestones that show real progress in a person's life.

The commissioner has also tasked me with researching and envisioning new needs for the agency and for our clients, and as she indicated, a number of other things, and this combination of tasks is focused on making a meaningful impact on the lives of those on probation and by extension enhancing the well being of our community.

Commissioner Holmes: Right. And for an example, when we're looking at new things surrounding programs we're looking for the LGBTQIA+ community, we're looking for special needs community. Probation encompasses these different types of communities, and we really didn't have anything specifically related to those two categories, so Robert's been tasked with researching those programs as well.

I'll now turn it over to our General Counsel Bridget Hamblin. Many people don't know specifically what it is that a general counsel does for an agency, but I'm quite sure Bridget Hamblin is going to make that quite clear today. Thank you, Bridget.

Bridget Hamblin, General Counsel, Department of Probation: Good afternoon, everyone. So, as the general counsel, I serve as the chief legal officer for the department, advising the commissioner as well as the entire agency on whole on issues of law, fact and policy. As this new commissioner has come on board, making sure that we make our legal obligations not only to the probationers but to the members of the actual department.

I'm also tasked with making sure that certain bills that are proposed that the department supports are pushed. I'm also responsible for making sure that we are keeping compliance with all federal laws, state laws and city laws.

My job as general counsel is to ensure that the agency has as minimal risk and liability and exposure as possible. Many people think as the attorney for the department I'm in court with the agency. My role is to keep the agency and the city in a whole out of the courtroom.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you. And that pretty much completes our presentation here today. So, thank you for allowing us to join you here today and speak about the impact that the Department of Probation has on public safety.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, I have a couple questions, commissioner. One, I [would be] just remiss if I don't just acknowledge the union, head of the union for the probation officers, Dalvanie Powell. I deal with a lot of union leaders, and I tell you, like just second to none as far as like supporting your members. They all support, but you are like fierce in that regard there, so I want to acknowledge your presence here, too.

So, we have how many members? How many probation officers? What's the scope of the… 

Commissioner Holmes: We have currently 490 probation officers, but it's a total of approximately over 900 members assigned to the agency.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Okay. And we're in all of the boroughs, we have officers in all of the boroughs? I know they were in some in the courtrooms, et cetera, right?

Commissioner Holmes: Yes. 

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, we can just give a little briefing of where we are.

Commissioner Holmes: Yes. So, officers are assigned to every borough in New York City naturally, and then we also have different branches that they belong to. Adult Operations is made up of six different branches. And what do we mean by branches? So, when someone's assigned to probation what happens is based on their assessment, based on how they're rated as far as low, medium, high, and it may be intense engagement that they're required, there's a particular branch that they will be assigned to.

Over that branch you have what's called the branch chief and then you have several supervising probation officers that oversee or manage the probation officers. So, that's pretty much the structure. Each borough has what's called, if you're family court, a borough director, and if you're Adult Operations then you have what's called an assistant commissioner. Those individuals report up the line to the deputy commissioners of Juvenile Operations and the deputy commissioner of Adult Operations.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So tell me about these NeON centers, right? Can you tell us a little bit about the NeON center, exactly what they are, how many we have, where they're associated at?

Commissioner Holmes: So, NeON, NeON centers were created pretty as a conveniency, right? Pretty much in the communities where we tend to have a large number of probationers residing, it was done in conjunction with a lot of members, key stakeholders from that particular community. And they also play a role in deciding what programs are delivered at those centers.

But we also have, I believe it's three centers that have pantries that feed a lot of people in the neighborhood as well as our probationers, and then we have what's called clothing closets. So, we're doing a coat drive now that's running in every borough. So, if you have any coats, and I'm speaking to our virtual community as well, please feel free to stop by any probation office and drop off coats.

But they serve a tremendous purpose because it helps allow for, I know some probationers that didn't have what we call car fare, I don't know what do we call it now, MetroCards or whatever, to get to the particular court to just to check in with their probation officer.

So now it makes it a lot more convenient for them to be compliant with their check‑ins or simply if they want to have a space where it's safe, do homework, receive tutoring. We've now reintroduced some, I think in the Bronx, we recently opened up about our high school equivalency program which was shut down for a period of time due to lack of wifi. So, we're making sure that that's up and running in every borough.

Also mentioned here today was the CDL course that I pretty much signed up with that program, standing room only, a lot of our clients are involved. Women and men have an interest. And we're actually conducting that particular training, I believe it's hybrid as well.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, Lisa, I've got to go back to you for a second, because something interesting… So, a young person in society gets arrested, right? For every arrest, they're going to have some contact with probation or there are certain arrests that you will not have contact with them?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Most young adults will come before probation for an intake interview. For the 16 and 17‑year‑olds, all the misdemeanors, the nonviolent felonies, VFOs, they're going to the youth part where if they are removed to family court then we will then conduct an intake interview.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, the intake is almost like an assessment, correct?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: That is correct.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, you're looking to determine any support that they could utilize. So, what we do with that assessment? Does it get to the judge? Does it get to the prosecutor? Explain that process a little more thoroughly.

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Okay. So, the assessment, if the case has been determined to refer to the court, what is discussed in those interviews is not shared with the court; however, the court will know whether the young person is doing, how they're doing in school. A chair, the Law Department will have that type of information. We are in the courtroom at that time where the young person, where we can share that as far as school. But what's happened in the intake interview is not shared with the court.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Um‑hmm. But we are doing an evaluation to determine what resources… 

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Yes.

Deputy Mayor Banks: …You could offer to this young person so that he or she can keep on the straight and narrow or try to be removed from the criminal justice system, correct?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: That is correct. We have… We connect with agencies in the community, we, what is it, the PAL, we've done, connect them with mentoring programs, educational programs. And as long as that young person cooperates with the program then their case will be closed. If not, then that's when we will have to refer it on the law department for access to court.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Okay. So, if they're on probation we're doing some type of monitoring, and as long as they kind of comply with whatever those guidelines or suggested guidelines are, our goal, right, if I heard you correctly — correct me if I didn't — the goal is to keep them out of the criminal just system. Correct?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: That is correct. In family court, we have this unique opportunity where we can divert a young person from there so they don't even have to be on probation. Some family members believe because they're coming to a probation officer they're on probation when actuality we've diverted while they're seeing a probation officer it's no court access. We can work with them. They thrive on that. And while they're on diversion services we can close out their case and they never have to see a judge.

Deputy Mayor Banks: So, is that very similar to… Robert, on the adult side, like we have somebody who's 25 years old or whatever the age is, 19, 20 years old?

Deputy Commissioner Maldonado: There are similarities and differences. For us, our business begins when someone takes a plea or have been found guilty in a criminal court. And in terms of the assessment piece of it, yes, we're assessing to see what are the needs, where can we meet this person, we meet them where they're at.

And we hope to develop whatever skills or whatever area they want to go through a plan. We create a plan. That plan is their case plan, essentially identifying what are the things that they want to work on. And with the support of the probation officer, we want to meet them and help them get where they want to be in life.

Commissioner Holmes: So, if you don't mind, I just want to chime in. So, the difference with a young person is that during that intake process we are making an assessment of that young person. That differs from the adults. Where we kick in with the adults is that if a judge is considering an adult for probation, they will request of us an investigation be conducted.

And it is a pre-sentencing instrument that's used to conduct that investigation that's then forwarded to the judge. It's a certain amount of days we have, because if someone's incarcerated, naturally it has to be done a quicker process than if someone is, you know, released on their own recognizance.

So, once that's forwarded to the judge, a judge now considers that as part of the sentencing. And if the adult is now sentenced to probation, now they come into probation and now we're really doing a thorough assessment of what are their needs. Unlike the children, the young people, where that's done with probation initially in the intake section.

Deputy Mayor Banks: You know, it's sort of like probation is, and I'm hope… You know, I just gotta, you know, got a lot out of this today but… And I pretty much know it relatively well. But for many, many years in this country, right, you know, we look at arresting people as the only way to actually keep disorder. The reality of the matter is that so many of these people can be saved if we give them the proper resources.

And that's not to say it's 100 percent, but I certainly believe that the majority of the people, to get the proper resources like job education, literacy training and emotionally help with ever the issues that they have that we can stop them from creating, committing the crime to begin with. Right?

So, for many years, make the crime, make the arrest, sometimes we have to do that. But if that's the only tool in the toolbox, then that's a fail‑fail system. And I'm happy that the work that Probation has been doing, but I expected nothing short of that because I've worked with Commissioner Holmes for a very long time and she worked for me in plenty of different assignments.

And the one thing about that I will have to say about you, commissioner, is that she probably more than as much as anybody I've ever worked with always come up with new ideas, and new ideas, and new ideas and we don't have to do it this way, and how do we push, and how do we push and how do we push, and how do we save the kids and how do we save the kids. And I've been hearing that from her ever since I met her. We can save these kids.

So, I really do appreciate that and I appreciate, you know, what you're bringing here to your particular team there as well.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Banks: And this is just not, hey, we're in front of the camera, you know, I felt that way about even when you were in domestic violence, school safety. So, I'm happy and pleased that you bring that same type of a different way to look at it, not the same way as yesterday, approach to probation. And we're seeing some really, really good things. So, I just want to thank the team here for all of the work that you've been doing.

So, with that, we're going to kick it to you.
Question: Thank you. Deputy mayor, kind of two questions. Number one, I'm just wondering what exactly is the purpose of this briefing, number one. And number two, us and other outlets have heard in the past few days that you are about to resign. Can you just set the record straight on what's going on there? Are you about to leave the administration?

Deputy Mayor Banks: Why don't we keep them all to Probation; and then after that we can go to whatever other particular topics. So, your first question was, is to keep New Yorkers informed of exactly what's going on from a public safety perspective.

So, we sent it out to the social media outlets and we want people to understand, hey, this is what's happening. So, people may not realize exactly what the Juvenile Operations or Adult Operations or Strategic Initiatives. They may not know exactly know what Commissioner Holmes' vision and what she's doing. So, that is the objective. And the purpose of that, and then your latter question we'll get to once we finish the probation questions.

Question: Hi. Mona Davids, LittleAfrica News. So, I'm really, really glad that you guys are having this briefing because just wearing both hats both media as a parent advocate and a school safety advocate. I can tell you that families would like to know more about Juvenile Operations.

And then speaking to media wise, I'd like to know what are some of the organizations, community based organizations that you are working with, Deputy Commissioner Frost. And then also in the African community, there's a rise of our youth getting involved with criminal activities.

I know Reverend Cohen and Mrs. Cohen can speak to it because wearing the other hat I work closely with them. So, when it comes to those communities and we're seeing the rise when it comes to our youth, with the language difference when it comes to engaging the families and the parents and then with community based organizations, are you working with any, say, for example, African, French speaking organizations? What types of engagement is out there to inform these communities and community leaders about these programs both for juvenile as well as for Adult Operations.

And then my second question is when it comes to the schools, are you guys, are you already engaging schools, public schools and charter schools so that their guidance counselors and their deans can also know about this program because I can tell you as someone very active in this space I didn't know. And if I didn't know, believe me, people don't know. Thank you.

Commissioner Holmes: Yes. And so I believe there were two or three questions there. So, and you're absolutely right. I worked in public service for the Police Department 36 years, I didn't know a NeON existed until I took over for Probation. So, that's another thing that we're focused on. doing a better marketing job.

But I'll answer your question pertaining first I'll do DOE. I recently met with the Department of Education, because you're absolutely right, looking at the number of under-credited kids we had or kids just simply not attending school was concerning to me. We know basic fundamentals, it's what's essential as far as reducing recidivism.

So, with that being said, I recently met with, or we recently met with [Mark Rapasat] who is key in DOE. I've known him for years. I was chief of school safety. And we identified all of our children, named them. He's working with us to get them placement in the right environment.

You believe it or not, some children haven't been to school in a year. Very concerning when you're 13, 14, 15 years old. So, now they're too embarrassed to go to school. As a result of such, we will do is make sure that we put them in an environment where they're comfortable at least to bring them up to grade level or to bring them up to seventh grade reading and math level which is only when you're going to qualify for a high school equivalency program. So, that is definitely being met with.

Your other question as far as meeting with the African and French community, I'm so glad that you brought that up because we were just speaking about language access yesterday, right, which is report mandated by DCAS, everyone has to be in compliance.

But to get more granular boots on the ground, that is something that this good person right here is working on in his research to make sure that we're meeting with those community based organizations and developing those relationships. So, I know for a fact he has made note of your inquiry right now and that we're definitely going to be on top of and make sure we're doing.

As far as the Cohens, I've been with them through the Police Department, through my mentorship groups. We work well together. They do a terrific job with TAG and they'll be tapping into the Department of Probation as well. And then you had a question about some of the programs with the juveniles. Lisa, would you like to speak to that?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Sure, yes. So, some of these programs you may be aware of. We work with cases, we also work with, I mentioned the PAL, we also work with the YES program. This is a program with young people with shoplifting, where they work with shoplifting, that is part of the diversion program and various programs in the schools.

We do go to schools with the young people in diversion. We visit the schools, we meet with the counselors. And programs that are within the school or the young person's connected to in the community, we will meet with them, learn about what they do, so we are not actually setting the young person up by having them go to various programs. If the young person can get service in the school, then that's what we'll do.

Question: Are you also in charter schools as well?

Deputy Commissioner Frost: Well, we're not based in the school, we make visits to the school. But if the young person is in a charter school, we're going to a charter school. Yes.

Question: Okay. Thank you.

Deputy Commissioner Frost: You're welcome.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Who do you work for?

Question: I'm the publisher of LittleAfrican News. We're the only African newspaper, weekly newspaper, in New York City, in New York State. And I'm also the head of the School Safety Coalition.

Deputy Mayor Banks: What's your name?

Question: Mona Davids.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Thank you.

Commissioner Holmes: Thank you.

Question: Good afternoon. I'm Darla. [Inaudible] if you guys have known Darla Miles. Can we talk about how the success is being measured and what data and metrics you can provide to show us that success in terms of this briefing?

And also just dig a little bit more deeply into this program with regard to what age range of children are you dealing with and what type of offenses are they being referred to you with. Are these misdemeanors, are these violent felonies? Can you kind of just give us a little bit more of a breadth of how that works, please?

Commissioner Holmes: Right. So, if we are speaking about the juvenile population, naturally, we are met with Raise the Age, right? In 2018, I believe it was 16‑year‑olds were now considered juveniles and then that elevated to 2019, it now encompasses 17‑year‑olds. So naturally, anything such as a misdemeanor now for those particular age groups will be referred to family court with the exception, I believe it's a misdemeanor VTL law.

And then still, even if it's not processed in family court and it's processed in the youth part of Supreme Court, it can still be deferred to family court based on the judge's decision. So, it's all crimes that we've taken on. We've taken on a lot of criminal possession of weapon crimes that are now in the juvenile section of probation as a result of Raise the Age. So, any crime can be deferred pretty much to family court naturally. But another part you spoke about were, I think you said programs that you spoke about or metrics?

Question: Yes, I think you answered that part. How is the success being measured?

Commissioner Holmes: Okay, so right, you're absolutely right. That's coming in the door, that's what I asked because originally, coming in the door, what I saw built into contracts and RFPs was simply, you have 16 people, that's success. So, if you were a particular, let's say mentorship group, as long as you had 16 names, that was success. It didn't add up to me.

So, naturally, as a result of such, we sat down as a team and decided and implemented what we call key performance indicators. So, success to me is this. If I'm speaking with a person that's met with the criminal justice system or not met with the criminal justice system and they don't… They're not attending school or someone that needs to be employed and now as a result of me meeting with them, I'm able to plug them into those needs that they have. To me, those are successful outcomes.

And so as a result of such, we have what's called DOP Connect when we're dealing with our partners that we currently have existing programs with, they are certain standards or certain metrics that we are now collecting prior to...

Question: [Inaudible]. So, this is the beginning?

Commissioner Holmes: This is the beginning.

Question: This is the benchmark and you'll be able to provide them at…

Commissioner Holmes: Absolutely, absolutely, yes.

Question: And it's going to be gauged, is this looked at over three months, six months and here, when should we expect to receive those [inaudible]?

Commissioner Holmes: Right. So what we're looking at, naturally contracts can be a year, they can be two‑year contracts. Not only have we just implemented these key performance indicators, we have sat down and spoke with the vendors and let them know now this is the gauge that we are using. This is the direction we're moving in, so they're aware of it.

As a result of such, we have what's called program evaluators under this fine person right here. And naturally, we look at it on a monthly basis. If we see something deficient, then we'll speak with the vendors. Look, we're not… Are you having trouble getting individuals? Are you communicating with different other mentorship groups?

So, even such as NYPD, I created two mentorship groups there with young people, Blue Chips and Girl Talk, very vibrant mentorship groups. And so it may be individuals in those particular groups that may benefit all also from partnering with other providers. So, we're doing this cross‑collaboration and trying to really look at it as one New York City and not having 10 auto mechanic body shops on one block, if that makes sense.

Question: Thank you. I apologize, I have one more quick follow up. Within your strategic initiative, is the gang issue specifically being addressed, because that's obviously a different population than some of the family court issues. We know this is well documented in terms of the NYPD with the problem in the Bronx and the problem in Brooklyn. So, within these NeONs and your strategic initiatives, is there anything carved out to deal with those gang members?

Commissioner Holmes: So, everything really is to deal with gang members because you're dealing with the individual. And naturally, in New York City, gangs is a problem because that's where some young people feel that's their family. We call it gangs, it's really my friends. And now as a result of us associating with them, you're considered a gang. The minute that one criminal act is committed and you have an associate now, it can be quasi looked at as a gang.

What we are trying to do is identify and channel that energy if you are with a particular group of people that you like more than others. We think about Blue Chips. I had created Blue Chips and now we have two Probation teams, I think in the Bronx, if I'm not mistaken, that are now part of what we call Blue Chips with NYPD.

They took their friends, they like playing sports. It could be flag football, it could be chess, checkers, whatever it is they offer it. More importantly, they have to give back to the community. That's the one thing I love about that mentorship group, so they have to do something to give back to the community.

That's why it's important to really identify these problems, especially in the Bronx. The Bronx and Brooklyn, where our crime is naturally is where our problems are. So, that's where probation is focused as well.

So, I think in the creation of marrying them up with PD, they get to know the officers. There's relationships there. They have the officers' phone numbers. Hopefully that'll mitigate some of that. But we do look at gangs in particular and hopefully we can channel them in a different direction. 

Deputy Mayor Banks: You can move on to whoever else.

Question: Yes, I mean, I'd reiterate the same question I had earlier.

Deputy Mayor Banks: The question was what?

Question: We as well as other outlets have been hearing that you are going to be stepping down by the end of the year.

Deputy Mayor Banks: Who are you hearing it from?

Question: I'm not going to disclose my sources, but we've been hearing it from people who are familiar with the matter.

Deputy Mayor Banks: People say I can't disclose my sources because I got this information, but I can't disclose my source about somebody who's stepping down or not stepping down. When you tell me who you heard it from, I'll answer the question.

Question: So, you're not going to address the question whatsoever?

Deputy Mayor Banks: Hold on, hold on. Because press, they think sometimes you got to da‑da‑da. I answered the question right? You got the answer that you're going to get.

Question: Right, but it's not a yes or no. So, you're not really answering the question.

Deputy Mayor Banks: You have the answer that you're going to get. I think he had a question next.

Question: And I also did wonder, but that's something I saw on Twitter, so I don't have any [inaudible]. I don't know if that changes anything at all. But…

Deputy Mayor Banks: It's interesting, right? We got some questions, some really good questions here that the public wants to hear about Probation.

Question: We want to hear about that, too. I haven't heard it, but now I really want [inaudible.] Is it a yes or no? I mean, obviously, but it's been out there and there's always something, you know [inaudible.] The public wants to know that as well.

Deputy Mayor Banks: The public does not want to know.
The public could care less about who, they want… You know what the public's concerned about? Safety. They don't care who delivers it to them. They care about safety. They don't care about what an individual person is doing. But anyway, you had a question. We'll come back, because I could do this all day. Go ahead.

Question: I have a question. So, going back to when the mayor returned from Washington, after Brianna Suggs had her room raided, did you speak to the mayor that day? Did you meet with him? Did you talk to him on the phone?

Deputy Mayor Banks: I think you asked the mayor, I think the question was asked to the mayor. He says that he does not share conversations, so I'm going to give you the same answer that he gave. But I speak to the mayor 400 times a day, all of the time. So, I couldn't even go back to say a day I did or did not speak to him. I speak to him all of the time.

I spoke to him before I came in this room. I'm going to speak to him when I leave out of this room because public safety is the platform and we speak it… But the reality of the matter, I don't even recall a day, there's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't have multiple, multiple, multiple conversations with him. So, that whole issue… 

Question: ...disclosing the nature of what the conversation was just broadly as a topic. Did you discuss Brianna Taylor… Or, Brianna Suggs, I'm sorry.

Deputy Mayor Banks: I can't… I don't share my conversations with the mayor, but I'm going to give you a little bit. I don't know if I've ever had a conversation with the mayor about Brianna, so I'll just give you that. I don't know if I've ever had a conversation with her about her.

But the whole stuff about who he met with, he said he doesn't share his conversations so I'm not going to particularly share those particular conversations there as well.

Question: Can I ask… 

Deputy Mayor Banks: I get [inaudible], you can go. No, no, no, no. You can… 

Question: I'm actually going to ask Chris's question again. Phrased differently… [inaudible].

Deputy Mayor Banks: Is that what they teach in journalism school? One person asks, another person asks, get a different answer here?
Question: I have a different question. Louis Molina, the Correction commissioner, was supposed to move into a different role in City Hall. I think the initial disclosure by the mayor was that November. That apparently hasn’t happened. There was a filing in court this week saying that he’s still, as of now, the Correction commissioner. Can you clarify what’s going on there? When is he actually going to step down from Correction and who’s going to take his post?

Deputy Mayor Banks: The mayor will be making that announcement in a pretty, pretty short order. You know, I can’t tell you that short order is an hour, two hours, two days, but in pretty short order the mayor will be making an announcement in regards to that.

Question: The NYPD has declined to appear at a City Council POST Act hearing, a hearing on that law a couple times, most recently on October 31st. There’s a new hearing scheduled on December 15, I think. Can you talk about why the department hasn’t shown up yet? And will they be showing up at that…

Deputy Mayor Banks: I don’t know whether they will be. There’s a lot of discussions going back and forth so I can’t tell you definitively right now whether they will or will not but there’s a lot of discussion going back and forth about that hearing and how that’s going to be handled, so…

Question: [Inaudible.]

Deputy Mayor Banks: Sure, there’s always a reason, right? There’s always a reason. But we can’t discuss that. We’re discussing the back and forth on why and why not. But the issue will be settled one way or the other, whether they come to the hearing, whether they don’t come to the hearing, the issue will be settled. And it will be settled amicably.

Question: I know the mayor has his own attorney representing him personally. Have you hired one, by any chance?

Deputy Mayor Banks: Is that a question for the mayor or what’s my question? Okay, what’s the question? 

Question: Have you… Like the same way that he has, have you gotten your own attorney to defend you personally in any sort of…

Deputy Mayor Banks: No, I have not. 

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958