De Blasio Welcomes NYPD's Most Diverse Graduating Class
Mayor Bill De Blasio right shown with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton
MAYOR DE BLASIO'S REMARKS AT THE NYPD GRADUATION CEREMONY
Thank you very much. First of all, it is my distinct honor to say congratulations officers.
You’re official now, and for that we are all so thankful and so proud. I want to thank some of the folks who are up here today. First of all, whenever I’m at one of these events, I like to acknowledge a man who works hard to make these events so good, the MC always, Lieutenant Giorgio. Let’s thank Lieutenant Giorgio for all he does.
And officers, you are blessed. You are not only joining the finest police force anywhere in the nation, anywhere in the world, you have the finest leader anywhere in the nation, anywhere in the world in Commissioner Bill Bratton. And that is a blessing for this whole city. Let’s thank Commissioner Bratton for all he does.
I want to thank all the other great leaders of the NYPD who are here today, including our First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Piñiero, our Chief of Department Philip Banks III, all our deputy commissioners, all our chiefs, and all our commanding officers. Let’s applaud all of them for the work they do for this city.
And officers, I believe that there’s an important and healthy role played by organized labor in our society, and now you’ll be represented by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Let’s thank the President Pat Lynch for all the work he does on behalf of the men and women of the NYPD.
Officers you make us proud today. You make us proud to be New Yorkers, to see so many wonderful men and women step forward to take on this most important of roles in our city. So I hope you’re feeling the pride in what you’ve achieved. You know your family members and friends who have filled Madison Square Garden to salute you are feeling so much today. Everyone is feeling proud and everyone’s feeling purposeful because your arrival on the scene lets us know that there’s more talent coming to make this city safe – safer than ever, in fact. And so we’re all blessed that you’re sitting here having completed this course.
Many extraordinary facts about this class. I want to first note, and thank and commend your wonderful valedictorian we’ll hear from soon, William Lynch. Congratulations. And to your salutatorian Elaina Malchevsky. Congratulations to both of them for all they’ve achieved.
This class is filled with talent and energy and drive and focus. It also happens to represent every neighborhood, every part of New York City. This is the best, the strongest, the brightest from every part of New York City coming together. Incredibly diverse class, 51 percent of this class is African-American, Latino, or Asian. Nearly 20 percent of this class is women.
You hail from 47 different countries. That’s amazing in and of itself, but that also brings with it your ability to communicate with every kind of New Yorker. You speak dozens and dozens of languages. Some of the languages represented here in the class today – just to show you we covered the spectrum – we have a Maltese speaker here in the class. We have a Tajik speaker here in the class. We have an Ewe speaker, which is a language spoken only in Ghana and Togo in West Africa. You name it, we got it at the NYPD. And you’re adding to that richness.
Fifty-three of the officers sitting before us today speak three or more languages, and that’s going to be a blessing for this city. And I want to take a moment to offer a special thank you, because 71 of you are veterans of the United States military. You gave to your country once, and now you’re giving to your city, and we commend you for that.
Something we can say about all 607 of you equally – you all earned this. You all worked hard. This is not something that’s just given away. It’s something that requires constant effort and focus and hard work. And each and every one of you went the distance. Each of you has a unique personal story, but what unites you is, you ran the course and you won the race. You went through to the finish, and now that gives us the blessing of your service to this city. Many, many here are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, following in the footsteps of family members in the proud NYPD tradition.
And something that’s particularly moving to all of us, some are carrying on the legacies of those who gave all during 9/11. Let me offer the example of Kimberley Phelan, upholding her father’s tradition of service. Her father was an NYPD officer for nine years and a firefighter for 12 years, and very sadly made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11. Kimberley was inspired by her father. She wanted to help others, and she started out as a teacher for six years. And she was helping others, but she felt something was missing, so she signed up to join the NYPD, and is seated here today, congratulations Kimberley for carrying on that tradition.
And then there are some here in this class who saw trouble around them and didn’t turn away but said they had to be a part of the solution. They saw people who didn’t have enough, and they said, ‘It’s my job to make it better.’ And one of those is Terence Green. He grew up in a tough part of Harlem. He could hear gunshots while he studied at night during school. And at a young age, Terence saw his own family torn apart by drugs and violence – he lost loved ones to the dangers that surrounded him. But at 14 years old, he already knew he wanted to be a police officer and be part of the solution. He wanted to make the world better than the one he grew up in. He studied hard, and today Terence has achieved his dream, congratulations Terence.
Now officers, to get this far, you had to have drive, you had to have passion, you had to have determination. And now, we need you to apply that on the streets of this city. You’ve gone through six months preparing to join New York’s finest, six months leading up to this day. You’ve gotten some of the most effective training anywhere on the earth, to prepare you to handle anything and everything thrown at you on the streets of New York. Training that prepares you for every eventuality, to use your skills, to use your quick wits, but also teaches you how to work with community members as partners – get the information you need, the support you need from them to do your job even better.
But I know that the urgency you felt, the urgency you felt on the way to this moment, when you got into the academy and then every day as you took a step closer to graduation. Well we’re going to need even more urgency when you get out there to serve the people of this city. Because you’ve been given the training, but now it’s time to participate in making this a safer city. We know that your arrival on the scene is going to help us immensely as we continue our efforts over decades to make this the safest big city in America. The story of the last 20-plus years is an amazing one. Generations of NYPD officers come forward, and one after another, have done better, and better, and better, and made this city safer and safer. And now the baton is being passed to you to continue that progress. And the people of this city need it. So you’ll be hitting the ground running later this week, out patrolling and protecting the people of this city. We know you’re ready. We know because of the level of training you’ve gotten, we know you’re ready to uphold the noblest traditions of the NYPD. And I have to tell you, on behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, we are so glad you chose this path. And you will see the gratitude of people each and every day in the work you do. God bless you for having chosen this path.
I’ll finish with a quote from your fellow graduate Terence Green, who I referenced earlier. He said, ‘Knowing that I can be a small piece of a larger puzzle, of protecting the residents of this city, providing more safety and opportunities for them than my family had.’ He said, ‘That’s empowering.’ And that’s how I think the right way to look at it – you are going to be providing the safety that people need, you’re going to be allowing people to live out the fullness of their lives. Because once you’re safe, everything else is possible. You’re going to be the agents of that improvement of peoples’ lives. Every day, you’re going to get a chance to uplift the people of this city and make their lives better than if you hadn’t been there.
And for that, we are eternally grateful. Congratulations officers.