Wilfredo Torres, MPA

Chief U.S. Probation Officer, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey

Please tell us about your current position. What do you do in your current role? What do you enjoy about it? What path brought you here? 

I’ve served as the Chief U.S. Probation Officer, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey since January 2010. We have 120 staff located in seven offices in New Jersey. We assist the federal court with presentence investigations and the community supervision of over 2,500 federal offenders in the State. Many of the crimes involve local and transnational drug crimes, gangs, firearms violations, and fraud. I became a federal probation officer in 1993 because I wanted to use both law enforcement and social work strategies to help reduce crime and keep our communities safe.


What made you decide to get an [E]MPA? Why Rutgers SPAA? How did this degree help you with your career path and goals?

I was in my mid-40s when I applied for the program. As a veteran of the federal courts, I have had the fortune of attending many training opportunities in management offered by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the Federal Judicial Center, two of the finest training institution in U.S. government. For many years, I had been closely reviewing the curriculum of the EMPA. I finally concluded that this program was the ideal setting to put all I had learned together, and I was right! During my interview before the District Court Board of Judges for the Chief’s position, this degree was one of the strongest selling points.


What was your experience at SPAA? Have you found any specific skills or knowledge gained from your time at SPAA to be particularly useful in your career? Was there a course or experience that was important to your development?

Currently, as is occurring in state, local, and federal executive branch agencies, the federal judiciary is facing massive budget cuts that are forcing us to do “less with less,” be increasingly innovative, and engaged in completely redesign our government structures. That’s really hard work. The EMPA, by having a teaching design that brings together esteemed professors and highly experienced government leaders, taught me that these challenges can be met if we place our limited resources in programs and areas that result in expected outcomes.  It’s obvious that we need more funding, but the EMPA provides participants with proven tools in strategic planning, performance measurement, financial management, and many other fields to get government to work right.  Notwithstanding massive cuts in the last year, by all accounts, our office has produced the best outcomes in the past 5 years. The EMPA enabled me to be a more disciplined, focused, thoughtful and decisive manager in order to move staff to accomplish established benchmarks. 


What advice or thoughts would you offer to someone thinking about getting an [E]MPA? And why should they choose SPAA?

I often travel nationally and meet with highly educated chiefs and other federal court unit executives.  It’s not unusual for someone to say, “You received your MPA from Rutgers? Wow!” SPAA [has] one of the most highly regarded programs throughout the United States and it is among my proudest accomplishments.  And no school is more committed to helping government entities meet the great challenge of the times and to sustain our respective missions. More importantly, the EMPA prepares managers and leaders to advance the notion that when managed properly, government entities do so much good, particularly in those communities and for those citizens that need it the most. I know of no other educational institution that is a more committed to the work of public servants than Rutgers SPAA. 


August 2012

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