New York, NY – Sixty-eight newly-minted Traffic Enforcement Agents graduated on Tuesday, October 9th, in a ceremony held at 1 Police Plaza in downtown Manhattan.
A rousing march by an NYPD band sporting flutes, trumpets, saxophones and drums greeted the assembled crowd, as family and friends of the graduates held cellphones aloft to capture future memories.
NYPD officials and Local 1182 President Syed Rahim watched from the auditorium stage as the expectant graduates sat, poised and ready, in their spotless blue uniforms and white hats. The band segued into an instrumental version of “Stand By Me” then “America the Beautiful” and two police drum players faced each other in an entertaining brief step dance.
Next, a film was shown lauding the TEA’s as those responsible for “facilitating the flow of people, goods and services…dedicated…professional.” It showed them in a variety of situations they face on the job – giving tickets, directing traffic, keeping watch on a flow of pedestrians, and facing inclement weather. Actor James Earl Jones narrated the piece, and his voice expressed pride and respect as he said, “New York City Traffic Agents – the people who keep New York moving.”
Police Officer Jason Martinoff from the 13th precinct sung the National Anthem and it was followed by an invocation by Police Dept. Chaplain Rev. Michael Lopez. He prayed “for this group of men and women,” and said, “May grace and protection accompany them always.”
Chief Thomas Chan spoke, saying, “You keep traffic moving. I appreciate what you do every single day,” and cautioned them, saying, “This responsibility is a challenge.” He said the positive results of Vision Zero “represent lives saved,” and proved “the strengths of our efforts to protect and save lives.” He told the graduates, “You will become part of the NYPD family.”
The graduates then each mounted the stage and received their diplomas, posing for a brief moment with the presenting official, and then shaking hands with President Rahim. Valedictorian P.T.E.A. Hang Li delivered the Valedictorian address, reminding all of the legacy of “courtesy, professionalism and respect.” “Each one of us has a different story of how we came here today,” he said, adding, “Take what you have done here and carry it with you.”
A benediction was then offered by Reverend Lopez, followed by the singing of “God Bless America” by P.O. Martinoff.
Sobita Roy, one of the graduates, said, “I’m excited. We’ve been waiting so much for this day. We feel like we DID IT! The training was so hard and tough – learning the new things, the rules – any new thing is hard to learn. Finally, everyone, did it. We are so happy. Our day is near!”
Lina Grumeza, who also graduated, said, “It’s a challenge but it’s something we achieved and it is just the beginning of our road.”