Joining NY's Finest — Page 2 of 2

GS: Is there a size limitation?
AL: Not any more. I was told it was because of a discrimination suit years ago. So the department dropped the size requirement. If you have the credentials, you can join.

GS: You had no problem going through the academy?
AL: To be honest, I did. I was 32, kind of old compared with the majority of officers.
GS: What’s the average age at the Academy?
AL: I would say 21 to 25. They have to be 21 to get into the Academy.

GS: What did you have the most difficulty with, the physical or academic?
AL: Academic. Police science, I did very well, I got over 90 at the time. But I had trouble with social science because that had so much reading.

GS: Right after the Academy you were walking the beat in the 68th Precinct (Brooklyn)?
AL: Yes. The first couple of years to the fourth year, you will be assigned to foot patrol.

GS: What were your hours like?
AL: At the time we just did flip charts — day tours one week, night tours the other week. I heard from the new guys that they do something different now.

GS: Did you like being a beat cop?
AL: I learned a lot. It’s not only from dealing with citizens, you also learn from dealing with other officers. When I did arrest processing I learned about the department computer system, learned about arrest procedures and the criminal justice system and dealing with the district attorney.

GS: What was the most stressful thing about those first few years?
AL: The hours and the personnel.

GS: What do you mean by personnel?
AL: The people in my precinct were much more straightforward than the people at my previous job with the Consumer Affairs Department. If you do something wrong, you get yelled at.

GS: Do you speak Cantonese?
AL: Yes, I speak Cantonese and I speak Mandarin too because I worked for Taiwanese people for four years. Many Chinese can speak both.

GS: Did your language skills get much use?
AL: Sure, especially when I was new. They used me for interpreting in court cases, including some high profile cases. I did it a couple of times for the homicide unit and the robbery squad.

GS: So you were at the 68th in Brooklyn for the whole seven years?
AL: In between I worked three months in the 7th Precinct, the vice-enforcement unit on the Lower East Side.

GS: Then you were promoted to sergeant at the 6th precinct. How did your life change?
AL: You go from being a police officer who just takes orders to someone who has to delegate work and supervise. It’s totally different. Department policy is to have sergeants take charge of eight cops. We divide into squads, mostly six to eight officers in a squad with one sergeant.

GS: You were transferred to the recruitment unit two years ago. What are your duties as a recruitment field supervisor?
AL: I go out to recruiting sites and make sure they’re well equipped and doing their job. We sometimes go to “participation” [held by] not necessarily me but some police officer. We also go to tutorial sites to make sure they’re doing things properly, and see how many people are coming to each location. For my part, I do a lot with the Asian communities. When I first came I suggested to the commanding officer that we make a lot of Chinese and Corean posters to promote Asian recruitment.

GS: Is your goal to recruit more Chinese and Corean officers?
AL: Not only those nationalities, but since I’m the only Asian sergeant here, I see them as my responsibility.

GS: What type of people are you looking for specifically in terms of age, qualifications, languages?
AL: In general we go by our guidelines. You have to be 17 1/2 to take the test. You can’t be a police officer until you’re 21. You need 60 units of college credit. You need a good driving record with a New York state driver’s license. You must have a good record with no arrests.

GS: Do you have any special needs for Asian officers in terms of nationality or languages?
AL: We encourage any dialect-speaking candidates to fill out applications. In particular, we’re looking for Fukienese-speakers. Lately we’ve had a lot of Fukienese crime in the Chinese community. I tried to do some recruiting in Chinese areas, but those people aren’t easy to get because most of them are first-generation. They don’t even speak normal Chinese. That’s why the higher-ups really want us to recruit them.

GS: Besides Fukienese do you have any other special need for Asian languages?
AL: We also need various middle-eastern languages and South Asian dialects. Specifically, we are seeking officers who speak Malayalam (Indian dialect), Urdu (Pakistanin dialect) and Fukienese (Chinese dialect).

GS: What do you think is the most important trait in successful police officers?
AL: Be competent, work hard and have common sense.

GS: What would be the most difficult part of becoming an NYPD officer for most applicants?
AL: College credits. I’ve seen a lot of candidates who pass the tests but don’t have enough credits.

GS: What’s the best part of being an NYPD officer?
AL: Retirement after 20 years.

GS: What percentage of your salary is the pension after 20 years?
AL: Fifty. That’s not bad, especially if you come on the job when you’re young. You can retire at the age of 41. You can start your own business or start another job and get a second pension when you retire from that.

GS: How are the benefits?
AL: They’re great. It depends on what union you’re in. Police officers have their own union and sergeants and lieutenants have their own unions. We have things like medical nd dental like most city agencies. But the best thing is the pension plan. Also, we have a lot of on-the-job benefits like scholarships. I’m studying in the John Jay, it’s a free program designed for police officers, with free 12 units of credit.

GS: What would you like prospective applicants to know about becoming an NYPD officer?
AL: The [variety of] opportunities. People think police officers just do patrol duty. We have all different kinds of units. This is a big department, a mini-society. You can specialize in any field.

GS: How many officers are in the department?
AL: Thirty-seven thousand.

GS: What percentage of those are patrol officers?
AL: Some say it’s only one-third.

GS: How many Asian officers do you have?
AL: Six percent of the force.

GS: What’s the percentage of Asians in NYC?
AL: I think it’s nine percent.

GS: Is that the percentage you’re shooting to recruit?
AL: Our commanding officer keeps talking to me about increasing our numbers. We’re trying. Prev

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