City Hall, New York, March 10, 2023
Deputy Mayor Philip Banks III, Public Safety: First, I’d like to recognize a few individuals. The first individual is Ana Bermúdez. She was assigned or appointed to the Department of Probation as a commissioner in 2014, and she was retained by Mayor Eric Adams in this administration. Under her leadership, the agency continued to progress and meet the needs and challenges of its clients. When she retired, she left some big shoes to fill. Fortunately, there are people in this administration who have big shoes. The void was filled temporarily by Michael Forte, who was the deputy commissioner for administration. He’s been with the agency for 12 years and he’s a 28-year veteran of the city government. And I want to personally thank you, Michael, for what you stepped into and what you’ve done. And right now I’d like to turn over to the mayor of the City of New York who will announce our new probation commissioner.
Mayor Eric Adams: It’s going to be an interesting conference. Dana’s here from The Times. How are you? Before we go into the good news we have, I want to really… I say over and over again, my little slogans that I state, what’s important for our city. Public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity. Public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity. And we are seeing as we announce the direction we are taking, New Yorkers and public safety, decrease in our major crimes. We started out ending the year with a decrease in shootings and homicides. Now we’re seeing a decrease in our seven majors. Now the one-year anniversary of our announcement of our economic blueprint, we’re seeing new numbers that show that we are doing to boost our economy, and it is working. Started being safe, and we’re seeing a prosperity of that. Just released data from the State Labor Department shows that New York City has recovered 99 percent of the job loss during the pandemic.
That’s prosperity in the city that we’re talking about. We’re not done yet, but it’s clear that New York City is back. And you’re seeing a reflection of that every day. And there’s going to be more good numbers that are coming out. To talk about the issue on hand, it’s my honor to announce the appointment of Juanita Holmes as a commissioner for the New York City Department of Probation. She’s the right leader and for the right time. Over 30 years of distinguished service rising through the ranks of the New York City Police Department. And I believe when you look at my overall approach to public safety, it is unique. There has never been a mayor that has had the depth of understanding of public safety. And what we did by bringing on Phil Banks to be the deputy mayor of public safety, we knew that we had to have one apparatus that was combined with all of our public safety apparatuses that were historically disjointed. Probation, Department of Correction, FDNY, the hospital police.
All of these agencies were disjointed. It was our vision to have one focus on dealing with public safety, and this aspect of it in the Department of Probation is a unique approach. Under the amazing work of Commissioner Bermúdez, she did not treat the Department of Probation as just a reactionary tool. She had great programs that would ensure people who were involved in the criminal justice system would not be abandoned and would not be part of the revolving door system. And we want to continue to build on that. But Chief Holmes brings another dynamic. We saw what she did with Blue Chips of building a relationship with the police in the law enforcement community. And Girls Talk, just recently having Cardi, Cardi B. The only disappointing aspect of you having Cardi B is that I wasn’t invited.
Commissioner Juanita Holmes, Department of Probation: You’re right. My apologies, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: And they’re those who critique. “Why would you bring Cardi B because she was arrested?” The same reason you brought Cardi B is why people voted for me, because I was arrested. You don’t discard people. This is an administration that believed perfectly imperfect people can show from their lessons to help people as they move forward in life. It was a brilliant idea to do so, and we are hoping you, Chief Commissioner Holmes, will bring that same level of creativity, boldness, and unafraid to lean into areas where people historically were afraid to do so. She understands that we don’t give up on people. And nowhere do we understand that better than the Department of Probation. Commissioner Holmes is going to play a key role and ensure that New York City remains the safest big city in America. Her distinguished career as a public servant, most recently as the chief of the NYPD training, the first uniform Black woman to hold that position.
And as chief of patrol, she created the Girl Talk Mentorship Program, as I stated, and several of the programs. Did this on her own time, went beyond the call of duty of performance. And that’s the type of energy we are going to need in the Department of Probation as we continue the good work that the agency has already put in place. Now she will take that same attitude, never giving up on anyone, her unique skill set, her leadership to the Department of Probation where she can further move it forward. And she comes from a distinguished family that they have contributed their lives.
And from the Department of Correction to the Police Department, her sister Janet Holmes, who’s part of our terrorist fighting apparatus, and her entire family from detectives to supervisors have been committed to law enforcement. And this is a law enforcement family. And we should be proud that she will take upon this awesome responsibility. It’s going to help New Yorkers exit the criminal justice system and find a better path. And I am proud that as the commissioner, she’s going to bring that energy that she has brought for over 30 years in the New York City Police Department. And so commissioner, I want to give you your new shell and tell you congratulations and thank you so much for your contributions and what you’re going to continue to do.
Commissioner Holmes: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Say a few words.
Commissioner Holmes: Okay. Good morning everyone. I first want to thank the mayor and Deputy Mayor Phillip Banks for this tremendous opportunity. Also, I’d like to recognize Michael Forte for his position in being acting probation commissioner. This is a tremendous opportunity for me. 36 years in New York City Police Department in New York City, and the assignments that I’ve had wasn’t behind a desk. So as a result of such, I have always been involved with children. Nothing more precious to me. Children don’t have the opportunity to choose their parents to choose where they live or the economic income that’s brought into their household.
So as a result of such, I really feel my years of experience as well as my experience with children, mentorship groups, youth programs, really, really qualifies me for this position. But more so, because I’m passionate about it. I’ve always been an advocate for anyone that’s touched the criminal justice system. How do we do better? How do they access, not just knowledge about services and resources, but the access? Right? A lot of times people just don’t have access. So I want to say thank you, deputy mayor and thank you, mayor, for this tremendous position. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Source: Mayor Eric Adams’ office, City Hall