Paterson’s new class of police officers has broken records as the first all-female class, including the first Palestinian-American hijabi officer, North Jersey reported.
“They’re trailblazers,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said as swore in the three officers.
“They’ve broken the glass ceiling. Now young Patersonians, young people in our schools and our streets, can look up and say, ‘I want to be just like them.’ “
The three officers, Yeniry Medina, Gabriela Toribio and Serein Tamimi were sworn in at a City Hall ceremony Tuesday in what the mayor called a “proud moment for the city of Paterson.”
The women started in a class of six recruits. After six-month program, the three were left standing.
Tamimi, 22, who came to the US when she was less than a year old, is the first Palestinian-American officer. She is a Muslim and wears the Islamic hijab.
She hopes to inspire other young Muslim women to follow their dreams.
“I want to be there for the community and be able to relate to them in a sense, and let everybody know, if they need anything, they can ask questions,” said Tamimi, whose mother, sister and cousin cheered her on in the audience.
“I want to show them that we’re not what the media portrays us to be,” she said. “We’re friendly people, we love what we do and we are there for the community.”
Toribio and Medina are Dominican-American and have lived their whole lives in Paterson. They join a police force of just over 400 people, including 57 women.
At the ceremony, Police Chief Troy Oswald commended the three women for their efforts at the academy, giving special praise to Tamimi as the first Palestinian-American female officer.
“It’s not about what we wear,” he said. “It’s not about the religion we practice. It’s about the ability to communicate. It’s about treating everyone fairly. It’s about being ethically sound.”
Different countries around the world have been allowing hijab as part of police uniform.
In 2016, Turkey allowed female police officers to don the hijab.
The move followed an earlier announcement by Police Scotland which declared hijab an optional part of its uniform to encourage more female Muslims to consider policing as a career option.
Similarly in Canada, the government announced just this week that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would allow its officers to wear hijab as part of their uniforms, in the hope of boosting the number of female Muslim recruits.