Mr. Molina, 49, brings a varied résumé to the role, having done stints — some of them short — in several different cogs of the criminal justice system, according to his LinkedIn profile. After 13 years as a New York City police officer, Mr. Molina served as a private security adviser to New York University, an investigator for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, an adviser to the city’s homelessness services department, the correction system’s internal Rikers monitor and a leader of the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s enforcement division.
In 2018, he became the No. 2 in the Westchester Department of Correction, where he helped the county satisfy the terms of its own agreement with the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and end federal monitoring of its treatment of incarcerated people.
George Latimer, the Westchester County executive who hired him, called Mr. Molina “an extremely talented fellow” and predicted he “will do a terrific job.”
“He has a ringing endorsement from his three years in Westchester County,” said Mr. Latimer, a Democrat.
Mr. Molina moved in January to Las Vegas, where as chief of public safety he oversaw the city jail and a fleet of marshals that protected city parks and buildings. The Las Vegas system is considerably smaller than the one Mr. Molina would be taking on, with just 394 full-time employees and a jail capacity of 1,200, compared with around 10,000 employees and nearly 10,000 beds in New York City.
The incoming mayor has sketched out an ambitious brief for his commissioner. In addition to resetting relations with the system’s roughly 7,800 correction officers, Mr. Adams wants to improve decrepit facilities on the island, where incarcerated people have been able to fashion pieces of the crumbling structures into weapons and escape their cells, and accelerate the processing time of cases. In many cases, processing times have lagged significantly during the pandemic, helping swell the city’s jail population — which had declined to its lowest point in decades — to more than 5,000 people a night on average.
And Mr. Adams has said that he supports the plan to close Rikers, which the City Council approved in 2019. But he is expected to put his own imprint on it, which could alter the scope or timeline of the project and significantly shape Mr. Molina’s mandate as commissioner.
Dana Rubinstein and Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.