Captain Pratima Bhullar Maldonado, an Indian-American police officer working in the New York Police Department has become the highest-ranking South Asian female cop in the NYPD.
She created history by becoming a captain in the police force after her promotion last month, CBS News reported on Monday.
Maldonado was born in Punjab, where she grew up till the age of nine before moving to Queens with her family. Today, the mother of four lives in New York.
Maldonado’s late father supported the family as a taxi driver in New York before he passed away in 2006 before she became a cop. Remembering him, she told CBS News, “He would have been so proud right now.”
Now, she is in charge of the 102nd Police Precinct in South Richmond Hill, Queens.
“It feels like coming home. I spent over 25 years in this precinct growing up,” Maldonado told the American news broadcaster.
The culturally diverse neighbourhood of South Richmond Hill is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the United States.
“Going to the same Gurdwara that I did as a child, and now as a captain, I love it,” Maldonado said in her interview with CBS News.
Maldonado confessed that it has not been easy climbing the ranks. Talking about the difficulties she has to face on a daily basis she said in the report, “Getting out there and working, and protecting people that are cursing you out sometimes and not appreciating what you're doing, but you still got you do what you got you do.”
The cop also talked about the responsibility of setting an example for the community, especially for women and girls, calling her job a “big responsibility.”
“I want to be a better and more positive example for my community and other females and kids who see us daily. Because that would change their perspective of law enforcement," she said.
Talking about her experience growing up there, she explained that as a result of a large non-English speaking population, there are language barriers in the Queens neighbourhood. She believes that her new role in the police will be beneficial for community policing.
According to reports released by the NYPD, 10.5% of the department's 33,787 members are Asian.
"I feel extremely proud. It's good to show other up-and-coming Asian, South Asian females that if you work hard enough you too can climb the ladder of success," she said.