Latino Court Officers Society holds inaugural induction ceremony
The Latino Court Officers Society (LCOS) of the New York State Unified Court System held and induction ceremony for its inaugural officers at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan last Thursday.
“I’m the founder of the first Hispanic woman-owned law firm Pacheco and Lugo,” said Betty Lugo, during the event’s opening remarks. “I know that when I started practicing law and I saw a Latino court officer I felt more comfortable. I’m looking forward to the organization, the unity and the development of more diversity within the entire court system.”
The society was officially started in September of last year by Jessica Hernandez, Erica Prosper, Rafael Nieves and Anthony Vazquez and in just six months it has already signed up more than 100 members.
Thursday’s ceremony was led by Steve Vera as the master of ceremonies Ahava Fred, the daughter of court officers Jennifer and Jose Fuentes, sang the national anthem and Sgt. Michael Garcia led the invocation.
Betty Lugo, past president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, gave opening remarks followed by the keynote speakers Chief Michael Magliano, from the NYS Department of Public Safety, and Chief Joseph Baccellieri, from the NYS Court Officers Academy.
“I’ve seen it, you see someone sweating it out in the landlord-tenant court because they can’t speak English, but then they see a Latino court officer and ask, ‘Por favor, yúdame,” — “Please, can you help me?” — and they relax because they know that they have someone who can help them in their language.”
Magliano and Baccellieri both spoke about how impressive the organization was in response to the hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico. LCOS helped to raise money for power generators and held a toy drive for affected children.
“These special individuals have channeled their time and effort to do good not only for their members, but for all,” Baccellieri said. “In a short period of time they have conducted relief efforts for our fellow Americans devastated by the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and have conducted toy drives to bring joy to underprivileged children.”
Following the speeches, judges Hon. Joseph Zayas, from Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term, and Hon. Evelyn Laporte conducted the swearing in ceremony.
Jessica Hernandez was sworn in as president, Erica Prosper as first vice president and Rafael Nieves as second vice president by Zayas. Dennis Duque was sworn in as treasurer, Mark Hirschman as secretary, Ishaira Garcia as financial secretary and Daniel Vega as recording secretary by Laporte.
“You have no idea how much I appreciate you in court,” Laporte said. “You make my life easier and I am glad every time I see my Latino court officers succeed and be promoted. I think that it’s me getting promoted and I want to have a party.”
“In the short time of our existence, we have received an abundance of support from the Office of Court Administration, other organizations and our colleagues,” Sgt. Jessica Hernandez said in closing. “I’m ecstatic that we now have over 100 members and our list keeps growing.”