High-ranking NYPD officer from China looks to promote diversity within department

QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- In celebration of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage month, Eyewitness News profiles a high-ranking New York officer from China, who is making an effort to enrich the department with more diversity and representation.

Sylvester Ge, 49, is the commanding officer of the NYPD's Highway Patrol Department.

He's responsible for keeping all the highways in the city safe.

"I have the best job in the world," Ge said.

The inspector immigrated from Shanghai when he was 14. Like many Asian parents, they wanted him to become an accountant.

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"I went to Baruch College, found out I wasn't really that good at math," Ge said. "So my second semester, I transferred to John Jay College and the rest is history."

He gives credit to his high school guidance counselor who suggested law enforcement, except he didn't know anyone in a uniform and there were very few officers who looked like him.

"You could barely see any Asians in the higher ranks," Ge said.

With no mentors or guidance, he took the test anyway and passed.

Ge says he has met some racism but applauds the NYPD for being fair about promotions.

He was tapped to lead highway patrol last December and his dad was beaming.

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Ge said his father was very proud of him and was glad Ge didn't become an accountant.

Becoming a commanding officer in the NYPD is a huge accomplishment. For Inspector Ge, he is using his high-profile role to inspire other, younger officers to reach for leadership positions.

"We could def use people with different backgrounds," Ge said. "It will only enrich the police department."

In his 26 years on the force, Ge has recruited many Asians as he tries to build a department that looks more like the culturally rich communities they serve.


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