PATERSON, NJ- If you listened carefully enough in Paterson City Council Chambers Tuesday you could hear the sound of a glass ceiling shattering.
Among a sea of blue, three women were sworn in as the newest members of the Paterson Police Department, the event marking the first time an all-female class of recruits took their next step in their nascent law enforcement careers.
“You are trailblazers,” Mayor Andre Sayegh told them just minutes before he administered their oaths. “Young females can look up and say ‘I can be just like them’” he told them.
Among the three women was Officer Serein Tamini, the first female of Palestinian descent to serve the Paterson Police Department. Her hijab evident under her police issued hat, Tamini also represents the first law enforcement officer locally to wear the traditional veil synonymous with the practice of Islam.
Asked about the accessory Tamini said she is “proud” to wear it and hopes it will help her “relate with the community” she has sworn to serve and protect.
Aware of the misconceptions many Americans hold of Islam, Tamini shared that she looks forward to “showing people that (Muslims) are not who we are often made out to be.”
“I just want to spread peace,” like the religion dictates, and how better to do that than by being a police officer, she concluded.
For Yeniry Medina becoming a police officer has been a lifelong dream. Reflecting on Sayegh’s message the new officer suggested that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, it just matters where you want to go.”
While respecting protocol and knowing the road will be a long one, Medina offered a hope of one day serving as police chief.
Her strategy to get their, Medina said, is “staying focused.”
While the classes at the Bergen County Police Academy were grueling, Gabriella Toribio still has more learning ahead of her, she said. The newly sworn officer is currently studying at Montclair State University and plans on graduating with a BA in Psychology in October.
That education, she hopes, will help her “learn how people think and react,” but it’s the on the job education she’ll start receiving from her fellow officers, including Lt. Dean Barone, Sgt. Hommy Cruz, and Sgt. Jason DeLucca who were all promoted as part of the ceremony, that will show Torobio, and her new sisters in blue, “the ropes and how to do the job right.”
While all three offered no doubts about their ability to take on the grueling task ahead it was Det. Alex Cruz, President of PBA Local 1, who summed up what their job really entails.
“Make the community a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” Cruz said. “That’s our responsibility.”
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