The NYPD added 434 newly-minted cops Monday in a Police Academy graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden.
Among them were a Tibetan refugee, the daughter of a cop who died on 9/11, a former Dallas officer honored for her role in responding to a mass shooting, and a cousin of an officer who died from ailments contracted from working at Ground Zero.
Of the graduates, 20% are women, police said, and 32 have previously served in the military.
“You are going to witness with your own eyes the good you’ll be able to do for your fellow New Yorkers. You’ll see right away that you’ll make a difference in people’s lives,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill talked about the importance of building ties with the community.
“Whether it’s one person you encounter, whether it’s a family, somebody down on their luck, even somebody you might have to arrest — treat them with dignity, treat them with respect and it’ll come back to you tenfold,” he said.
The Tibetan refugee, Tenzin Penpa, 32, fled Nepal and was inspired to become a police officer by the Dalai Lama.
He has four children and a wife, all named Tenzin, and speaks just as many languages — Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi and English.
He was born into a poor family that lived in Pokhara, a town in central Nepal. He eventually moved to New York and decided to become a cop because he “wanted to provide the best for his family.”
He hopes to “make a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s something small.”
Michael Zadroga, 25, of North Babylon on Long Island, said he decided to become a police officer when he was 12 or 13 years old.
His cousin James Zadroga died on Jan. 5, 2006 of lung disease caused by breathing the dust at the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks leveled the towers.
His death led Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides for health monitoring and financial aid to first responders, volunteers and survivors of the attacks.
Michael said carrying on his cousin’s legacy is an honor.
“There’s no better feeling than carrying on a family name,” he said. “It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family and it also means a lot to the people who served in 9/11 and who experienced all those illnesses, some who lost their lives. I think it’s just nice to see that a tradition keeps on going.”
He will be assigned to PSA 3 in Brooklyn. “Right now, I’m just hoping to start off great and eventually make my way up the chain of command,” he said.
Brittney Roy’s father Timothy died on 9/11. He was 36 and was working as an NYPD officer in the Brooklyn courts when he rushed to help and was last seen by the South Tower before it collapsed.
Maja Vincic, 28, fled war-torn Bosnia and lived in Germany before joining the Dallas Police Department. She worked there six years until joining the NYPD.
She said she grew up revering the people who helped her family flee and wanted to do the same when she grew up.
She joined the NYPD, she said, because she believes it has the “greatest counterterrorism unit in the world.”
In 2015, she was among 71 Dallas officers honored for their work when an unhinged man name James Boulware drove an armored van to police headquarters there, rammed a police vehicle and opened fire on police. A sniper killed Boulware in a subsequent stand-off 10 miles away in Hutchins, Tex.