BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Two Queens teens were sworn in by city Police Commissioner James O’Neill as borough commanders of their local precincts, and 16 others were presented with Queens Precinct Commanding Officer awards on Friday.
More than 130 teens, all of whom are members of the city’s Police Athletic League (PAL) program, were assigned for the day to be deputy commissioners, police chiefs, borough commanders and precinct captains throughout the five boroughs.
Jeremey Daniel Collado, who lives within the 107th Precinct, was sworn in as the borough commander of Queens South and Finella Brigulio, who lives within the 104th Precinct, was sworn in as the borough commander of Queens North.
The Queens Precinct Commanding Officer awards were presented to PAL participants Thomas Burke, 100th Precinct; Justin Rossman, 101st Precinct; Maharaj Keiron, 102nd Precinct; Thursday Williams, 103rd Precinct; Vanessa Kendra Whyte, 104th Precinct; Samia Quinn Nizam, 105th Precinct; Miranda Lallbachan, 106th Precinct; Elijah Richardson, 107th Precinct; Lesley Astudilla, 108th Precinct; Daisy Tlaczani, 109th Precinct; Peter Roa, 110th Precinct; Renee Yanyi Chan, 111th Precinct; Anna Hochenberger, 112th Precinct; Christopher Clarke, 113th Precinct; Mia Ramos, 114th Precinct; and Chelsea Lojano, 115th Precinct.
The Police Commissioner for a Day is a citywide essay contest organized by the PAL each year. This year’s essay theme question was, “Given the current emphasis on neighborhood policing, what programs would you like to implement in your community as ‘Police Commissioner for a Day’?”
The winners planned to spend the day at their respective commands at police headquarters and local precincts throughout the city. They also planned to tour the Highway and Harbor Patrols, the Mounted Police, and the Canine, Aviation and Emergency Service Units.
“When I see the outstanding talent and enthusiasm in this room, it makes me feel optimistic of the future of our city,” O’Neill said at the swearing-in. “We need young people who are problem solvers, who can think logically, creatively and can express themselves persuasively, as you did in the essays. Today, you are going to learn a lot more about the police department than you’ve ever known before. I hope you will share your experiences with your friends and fellow students. I look forward to the day after you finish high school or college when you might consider a career in the NYPD.”
Charles Stillman, a PAL board member, gave a motivational speech during which he noted that the first Commissioner for a Day contest took place in 1940 and that, in 1946, a young man named Benjamin Ward became the police commissioner for a day.
“This Benjamin Ward was not satisfied with being the commissioner for a day because, in 1984, Benjamin Ward was appointed the police commissioner of the city of New York. And what’s important to note is that Benjamin Ward was the first African American police commissioner to be appointed in the city of New York,” said Stillman.
The PAL is the city’s largest independent nonprofit youth organization, and provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to more than 35,000 boy and girls annually.