Translated by Rong Xiaoqing
The Asian American Police Executives Council of the New York Police Department (AAPEX), a newly-formed group composed of high-ranking Asian-American police officers, celebrated its inception at One Police Plaza on Nov. 1.
With 21 captains and 13 lieutenants eligible for promotion, Asians will soon make up an unprecedented 10 percent of the 350 captains of the NYPD, a larger proportion than that of Asian police officers in the department overall. The AAPEX Council aims to further increase those numbers by offering mentorship to Asian-American officers, cultivating them for leadership positions and helping them rise through the ranks.
Hugh Mo, a former NYPD deputy commissioner who initiated the idea of the AAPEX, chairs the group’s advisory board together with Thomas Chan, chief of the Transportation Bureau and the highest-ranking Asian-American police officer in the NYPD’s history.
Mo said more and more Asians have joined the force in the past decade, and the number of Asian ranking officers has also grown rapidly in the last three years. This increase inspired him to form AAPEX, in line with the promise he made when he served on the NYPD “to climb the ladder together with the brothers.”
Mo said Asians now make up 9 percent of police Academy graduates each year, and there are more than 550 Asian-American officers ranked at sergeant or above, including 21 captains and 13 who are eligible to be promoted to captain.
Chan said close to half of the department’s high-ranking Asian officers are immigrants, and two-thirds are Chinese Americans. Some of them came to the U.S. as adults and speak their native languages fluently, and they are playing an important leadership role in the NYPD and are role models for other Asian-American officers.
“Many of them are the first in their families joining the NYPD,” said Chan. “It is not easy for immigrants growing [up] in traditional culture to get the support from their families to become police officers.” He added that higher ranks bring more responsibilities, and it takes more work to become a department leader.
One of the advisory board members is Tommy Ng, Commanding Officer of Operations of the Patrol Borough Queens North. AAPEX’s founding members have served as executives at the 109th Precinct in Flushing, the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park and the 5th Precinct in Chinatown — all Chinese-concentrated neighborhoods. Its members worked hard, got even closer to one another and cultivated a sense of belonging as they worked to launch the group in the last few months, Ng said.
Other high ranking Asian-American police officers with management positions in the new group include Stewart Loo, captain of the Detective Bureau Manhattan Group 2, who serves as president; Jackson Cheng, captain of Detective Borough Brooklyn South as first vice president; Jun Zhen, executive officer of the 43rd Precinct as second vice president; Tao Chen, executive officer of the 71st Precinct as third vice president; Naoki Yaguchi, commanding officer of the Central Park Precinct as treasurer; Brian Eng, captain at the Office of Management Analysis and Planning; and Nelson Chen, patrol captain of the Special Operations/Emergency Services Unit, who serves as sergeant-at-arms.
Ng said the AAPEX is not only going to encourage Asian police officers to take the promotion exams, but will also work as a platform where experienced executives can share what they’ve learned with newcomers. There are currently 3,000 Asians among the NYPD’s 36,000 police officers, making up 8.5 percent of the department, according to Loo.
“I am always proud to be a Chinese American,” he said.
The Taiwan-born Loo witnessed the hardship his father went through as a delivery man after the family moved to the U.S. This is why, despite his rapid rising through ranks, Loo has never forgotten that the reason he joined the NYPD was to help people like his father.
He is now working on the front line leading one of the Manhattan Detective Bureau’s three groups, where he also supervises the drug enforcement task force, running often drug sting operations together with his team.
Loo said justice is always on his mind during work, and says formation of the AAPEX is to offer Asian police officers a venue to raise their voices, but that it’s not a group only for Asian-Americans. It was formed to create an atmosphere of fraternity and belonging so that police officers can better serve the communities, he said.