NYPD’s New Generation of Hispanic Officers

Newly-graduated Officer Miguel Torres, a Bronx resident of Puerto Rican descent, with his family. (Photo by Camille Padilla-Dalmau via El Diario)

Newly-graduated officer Miguel Torres, a Bronx resident of Puerto Rican descent, with his family. (Photo by Camille Padilla-Dalmau via El Diario)

New York City has a brand new generation of police officers. On July 1, 1,257 recruits graduated from the Police Academy, and they are now part of the New York Police Department (NYPD). Of the new members, 284 are of Hispanic descent.

At the graduation ceremony, held at Madison Square Garden, relatives of the Latino officers expressed their pride. Thereza León, whose husband Esteban graduated, said: “I am so excited. He had been in the Army hoping to become an officer.”

Ninety-eight former members of the military became police officers during the event.

“I feel happy for having a sergeant son and an officer daughter,” said José Elías Santiago, 77, who was a police officer in his native Dominican Republic before moving to the U.S. His son, Yaudy Fernández, wore his uniform and said he was happy to attend his sister’s graduation. “He also wants to be a police officer,” said Fernández, referring to his nephew, who was also there.

Theirs was not the only “blue blood” family at the event. Miguel Fonseca, the cousin of one of the graduates and a police officer in Puerto Rico, flew in for the ceremony. “Ever since he was little, he saw me wearing my uniform and would ask me if he could try on the vest and the gear,” he said.

Carlos González, from Ecuador, was visibly moved while talking about his daughter, Officer Nataly González. “I think that this is the result of all my wishes and my efforts,” he said about his U.S.-born daughter. Women comprised 27 percent of the graduates.

“This profession is passed down through families with such reverence,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in his speech to congratulate the new officers. He added that the class is graduating at a moment when the NYPD is trying to get closer to communities and that the new officers reflect “all the waves of immigration that have made this city great.”

For his part, Commissioner Bill Bratton reminded the graduates that they should never lose their sense of community. “You must balance your professional skills with your community skills,” he said.

Bratton added that the graduating class has the most advanced training in the history of the police force, not only with respect to firearms, but also on how to intervene with people under the influence of drugs or who suffer from mental illness.

Two Latinas were acknowledged during the ceremony. Nélida Pérez was given the Outstanding Company Sergeant award, and Samantha Medina, the Exceptional Community Service award.

The new police officers started working on July 4.

“This is a beautiful way to start my career, on Independence Day,” said Miguel Torres, from the Bronx.

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