New York City

NYPD Police Academy grads rise above de Blasio heckling at ceremony

'Best trained, best equipped' class ever

December 29, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
More than 800 NYPD Police Academy grads filled Madison Square Garden on Monday.  Photo courtesy of NYPD
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The 884 members of the NYPD Police Academy’s December 2014 graduating class did not escape the controversies and unrest surrounding policing at their graduation ceremony on Monday.

But they rose above the heckling that greeted Mayor Bill de Blasio, and stepped up to the plate with all the professionalism the city will ask of them as their careers unfold.

The recruits honored murdered Brooklyn NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu (posthumously promoted to the rank of first-grade detective) with a moment of silence, in a ceremony that replaced the traditional hoisting of the white gloves.

Reflecting an awareness of their bond with the community they police, they chose as their class motto, “Committed to community, dedicated to progress, policing with respect.”

This December’s graduating class is one of the most diverse in NYPD history. The recruits speak 59 languages besides English including Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, and Punjabi; 10 percent have served in the United States military; and 18 percent were born in a foreign country.

At the Madison Square Garden ceremony, the nobility of the new officers’ chosen calling was emphasized by the mayor, Police Commissioner William Bratton and James Fuchs, the valedictorian of the graduating class.

“In my heart and in my soul, I will always be a cop,” Bratton said. “There are those that would seek to use that term [‘cop’]  in a derogatory fashion, but I always use it with pride. It denotes something more than being a police officer. It denotes the person that puts on the badge, puts on the blue uniform and goes into the streets to put their life at risk. So, it is a name of distinction; a name of honor.”

“All 8.4 million New Yorkers depend on you. It’s a noble calling, because you stand for everyone around you,” de Blasio said.

“And you will confront all manner of problems. Let’s be honest about the realities of our society. You will confront all the problems that plague our society – problems that you didn’t create,” he said.

A smattering of catcalls broke out from spectators, and several reportedly turned their backs on the mayor. The derision echoed the scene at this past weekend’s funeral for fallen Detective Ramos, when a number of officers also turned their backs on de Blasio.

Police Commissioner William Bratton later called that behavior inappropriate.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association leader Patrick Lynch has accused de Blasio of turning his back on New York City cops in siding with black civilians, including Staten Island’s Eric Garner, who died after confrontations with police.

Bratton told the grads that de Blasio is passionate about the department. He described NYPD’s new training techniques, meant to beef up new cops’ tactical skills and strengthen ties with the community.

“You’re the best trained, the best equipped class we ever had,” he said. “This mayor will do everything in his power to equip you, train you, be with you.”

De Blasio said that the city has invested additional $400 million this year to keep officers safe, including more than $160 million for tablets in every patrol car, and smartphones for every officer.

The recruits will be paired with experienced field training officers and be deployed to Precincts, Police Service Areas, and Transit Districts in all five boroughs. The first major citywide deployment for this class will be the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, according to NYPD.

“The past six months was like no other time in NYPD recruitment,” said valedictorian Fuchs. Fuchs is following in the footsteps of his mother and father, both retired NYPD detectives.  

“We watched tragedy unfold… It would have been easy to quit,” he said. Instead, the graduates chose to “push forward as a group to take on the noble responsibilities of New York City police officers.”

Fuchs offered a last bit of advice to his fellow officers. “Be safe, be alert, never let your guard down.”

This article was updated at 5:45 p.m. with information about the diversity of the recruits and training information.

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