'Law & Order: SVU' Adds New Regular to Main Cast

Octavio Pisano's character Detective Joe Velasco is getting a promotion on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. After joining the long-running NBC series in Season 23, Pisano has been promoted to a series regular on SVU. TVLine was first to confirm the news, with Pisano's promotion following the exits of Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes, who portrayed Officer Kat Tamin and Deputy Chief Christian Garland, respectively.

Pisano's Joe Velasco is a former undercover and detective under Chief McGrath and involved in the SVU's bust of Congressman Howard. The actor made his Law & Order: SVU debut during the Season 23 premiere, "And the Empire Strikes Back," on Sept. 23, and has since appeared in two additional episodes this season, "Never Turn Your Back On Them" and "One More Tale of Two Victims." Although a new character, fans have already learned a lot about Velasco and his traumatic past, with it being revealed that Velasco grew up with an abusive father. Velasco used his traumatic childhood to coax one of Congressman Howard's victims into helping the police. During Pisano's most recent SVU appearance, his character was assigned to a more permanent position at SVU.

Prior to his role on the beloved police procedural, Pisano starred as Sultan alongside Michael Chiklis in the CBS All Access limited series Coyote. He also appeared as Julius Escada Jr. in the Tyler Perry soap opera If Loving You Is Wrong on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). His other credits include the pilot for the revival of Dick Wolf's New York Undercover and iLove, among many others.

Pisano's promotion comes as Law & Order: SVU prepares to air its milestone 500th episode. Scheduled to air on Oct. 21, the episode will see the return of two departed stars, with both Danny Pino and Dann Florek set to reprise their respective roles as Det. Nick Amaro and Capt. Donald Cragen, respectively. The episode's official synopsis reads, "Amaro asks the SVU for help in clearing a convicted man's name and brings a figure from Benson's past back into her life."

Originally premiering in 1999, Law & Order: SVU is TV's longest-running primetime live-action series. It follows the lives of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department and stars Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Kelli Giddish as Detective 2nd Grade Amanda Rollins, Ice-T as Sergeant Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, and Peter Scanavino as ADA Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Jr. The series received a three-year renewal in 2020, taking it through Season 24.