Is 'SVU' Detective Joe Velasco a Friend or Foe? Here's What We Know so Far

Can 'SVU's Joe Velasco be trusted? The 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' detective (Octavio Pisano) has been giving mixed vibes in Season 23.

Pretty Honore - Author

Nov. 4 2021, Published 7:42 p.m. ET

Octavio Pisano as Detective Joe Velasco, Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins
Source: NBC

Many dedicated detectives have come and gone since Law & Order: Special Victims Unit first premiered — the latest of which is Katriona Tamin (played by Jamie Gray Hyder), who nearly lost her life in the line of duty. Due to her exit, there’s a new NYPD detective in town to take her place.

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Sergeant Benson and her squad — Fin, Rollins, and Carisi — have singlehandedly been holding down the Special Victims Unit for years now. But we’re not so sure where SVU rookie Joe Velasco’s (Octavio Pisano) loyalties lie. So, can SVU Detective Velasco be trusted?

Octavio Pisano as Joe Velasco, Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins
Source: NBC
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Can Detective Joe Velasco be trusted on ‘Law & Order: SVU’? Viewers are apprehensive.

Much like former Deputy Chief Christian Garland (Demore Barnes), Kat’s time on the series was short-lived. Both Jamie and Demore made their debut on the series in Season 21 and were promoted to series regulars the following year.

SVU viewers were shocked by the news that the two would be leaving the series after only two seasons and their replacements seem pretty shady.

Following Kat and Garland’s departure, Detective Velasco is assigned to the SVU at the request of Chief McGrath (Terry Serpico), which proves to be trouble for Liv (Mariska Hargitay). Viewers have reason to believe that Velasco was transferred to the SVU to be McGrath’s mole, and we’re inclined to agree.

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Octavio Pisano as Detective Joe Velasco
Source: NBC

Who is the actor who plays Detective Velasco on ‘Law & Order: SVU’?

Before snagging a role as the latest series regular on SVU, Octavio Pisano starred in Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong for six years. Today, he also appears alongside Michael Chiklis, Juan Pablo Raba, and Adriana Paz in the CBS All Access series Coyote.

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We first met the detective in the Season 23 premiere when he acted as an undercover agent in the NYPD’s investigation into Congressman Howard (Ben Rappaport). Later, he stepped in to fill the gap for Kat and viewers had mixed feelings about it.

In a Reddit thread, many insisted that the series has overplayed the cis-gendered straight white man with anger problems trope. *Elliot Stabler has entered the chat*.

Ice T as Sergeant Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson Octavio Pisano Joe Velasco
Source: NBC
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One fan said of Velasco, “Honestly he is the same character cop shows trot out. Overly aggressive and stereotypical. I was thinking why I liked Kat last night and realized she isn’t what I normally think about with detectives who are female on TV.”

On the other hand, other viewers are optimistic about Velasco’s arrival and are dying to learn more about the detective’s tragic backstory.

“I actually like him. I like that new ‘I’m not used to this’ mentality he has, and his intentions are good I think. Only time will tell with him, but I hope he stays and isn’t just a one-seasoner like Lake was back in Season 9. Overall, I think his character is solid,” another SVU viewer wrote.

Because he was introduced as one of McGrath’s guys, it’s not clear whose side he’s really on. But it’s likely that we’ll get our answer as Season 23 unfolds.

You can watch Detective Velasco on new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.

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