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New NYPD recruitment drive is aimed at LGBTQ community

“We want to look like the community that we serve. And that comes across all spectrums,” said Sgt. Ana Arboleda


An NYPD officer marches in a New York City pride parade.

Enid Alvarez

By Brittany Kriegstein
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Growing up in Queens as a member of the gay community, NYPD Sergeant Ana Arboleda faced her share of struggles. It wasn’t until she joined the department’s Cadet Corps in 2007 and walked a beat two years later, that she finally felt accepted.

Now Sgt. Arboleda is the agency’s LGBTQIA+ liaison, and is at the forefront of a larger effort to diversify the department.

With new recruit registration underway, the NYPD will, for the first time, be circulating ads featuring members who identify as gay.

“The way I see it, this is just one piece of an overall larger puzzle, which is just for the community to see that we want to be represented, we want to look like the community that we serve. And that comes across all spectrums,” Sgt. Arboleda said.

Captain Glorisel Lee, the commanding officer of Recruitment, is leading the initiative, which will include a series of information sessions, career fairs, and street corner outreach. The $40 exam fee will also be waived for the four weeks of registration.

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Like Sgt. Arboleda, Capt. Lee says she understands the difficult circumstances facing many young people across the city, especially in the underserved communities this campaign will target. As a teen mom who fought to even finish high school in her Sunset Park neighborhood, she emphasizes that joining the NYPD can be a way to break out of vicious cycles of poverty and lack of opportunity.

“There are so many young people in the city with similar stories, that they’re just struggling, stuck,” she said. “Everyone has a different obstacle… I just try to tell them my story and say you have a chance, you can make something of yourself.”

Diversity within the NYPD, long a subject of criticism, has increased over the course of the last few recruitment cycles. Of those who registered to take the police test in May, 70% identified as minorities, that’s 10% higher than the running average the previous four years, according to department data.

Out of 700 candidates hired in June 2021, 77% identified as male and 23% identified as female. Hispanic candidates made up the majority of the new class, representing 35%, followed by 32% as White, 16% as Asian or Pacific Islander, 16% as Black.

While the NYPD website shows the the force is within several percentage points of citywide numbers in terms of diversity, department brass feel there’s still work to be done to have a police force that mirrors the people it serves.

As another part of this new effort, the NYPD will begin to publish an additional set of recruitment statistics. Along with available data about race, the department will offer a breakdown of members’ sexual identity and orientation. They will be one of the first police departments in the country to do so, and hope that it will motivate LGBTQIA+ individuals to apply.

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“You have tangible metrics,” said Capt. Lee. “And if people can actually see the numbers, they’ll feel like they are joining a larger community.”

The NYPD has a fraught history with the gay community. From the Stonewall riots of 1969, where cops raided the Stonewall Inn and violently arrested gay, lesbian and transgender patrons to the banning of police from Pride events over fears revelers would feel threatened.

“The NYPD has made a ton of gestures to suggest that they’re inclusive. They’ve participated in a ton of events within the community, they will put the inclusive flag on a lot of their advertising materials. Meanwhile, anytime there are acts of aggression within the NYPD, anytime there is a violent act of policing against queer communities and communities of color, they historically have been silent,” said Dan Dimant, Media Director for NYC Pride.

“Great strides have been made in the relationship between the NYPD and the community, and yet at the same time, there continues to be this tension with aggressive policing that targets minority communities,” Dimant said.

To those who may want to join the NYPD but are skeptical of the department’s inclusivity, the message is: new recruits can make a difference.

“Our hope is that with more people coming out and more people coming on the job that openly identify as LGBTQIA+, the experience and career progression of our folks in the rank and file will improve, and that will ultimately lead to better relationships with the community,” said Brian Downey, president of the Gay Officers Action League.

“Visibility to me is important, it’s crucial. The more diverse we are as a department, the better,” said said Sgt. Arboleda. “It’s all about just being a true and genuine reflection of the community we serve.”

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