Fine Show Of N.Y.C.’s Diversity

Ernie Naspretto, New York Daily News, Dec. 27, 2006

Mayor Bloomberg welcomed the most racially and ethnically diverse Police Academy class in the history of the city to the NYPD yesterday—calling the recruits a “gift to the city.”

As Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played inside Madison Square Garden, the 1,359 rookie cops marched past adoring loved ones before assembling on the floor of the famed arena.

About 300 of the class’ recruits—more than one in five—are foreign-born and come from 65 different countries, police officials said.

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Of the rookies, about 46% are white, 28% Hispanic, 17% black and 8% Asian. About 18% are women and 17% have military backgrounds, police officials said.

NYPD brass said the historic diversity of the class was a direct result of the department’s push to hire more minorities and women and find recruits who speak foreign languages.

The number of cadets born abroad is also likely the highest ever, but formalized tracking did not start until this year, officials said.

Here’s a look at a few of the city’s newest cops:

James Grover Wilson

Wilson immigrated to Brooklyn from Ukraine about eight years ago when he was 24. And one of the first things he did was legally change his name from Yevgeniy Nazaochuk.

“I changed my name to be more American,” said the 6-foot-tall recruit.

Wilson, who speaks Ukrainian, Russian and English, said he chose “Grover” as his middle name after reading about President Grover Cleveland, who as the 22nd and 24th commander in chief was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later.

The NYPD’s roughly $25,000 starting salary didn’t deter Wilson, who had been earning a higher wage as a plumber.

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Ibrar Fazal

Fazal followed his three older brothers into the ranks of the NYPD.

While the 24-year-old father was born in Brooklyn, two of his older brothers, Aftaz, 42, and Afzal, 38, who both work out of commands in southern Brooklyn, were born in Pakistan.

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All the brothers speak Pakistani and English.

Wilson Lema

The 29-year-old father signed up for the NYPD after completing a five-year stint in the U.S. Army.

Lema, who emigrated from Ecuador when he was 15, served in Germany and Iraq before returning to his home in Brooklyn.

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