Female Asian-American NYPD officers.
The NYPD is “actively working to recruit more” Asian-American female cops after the group made up just 3 percent of the total graduates in the most recent Police Academy class.
Korean-American Officer Soojin Kim, 40, who works in the NYPD’s recruitment office, says she knows first-hand the main obstacle that prevents many Asian-American women from becoming cops — “cultural background.
“As a girl growing in [an] Asian family … your parents instill in you, ‘Be a this, be a that.’ My parents never asked me [about the law enforcement] route, so I didn’t think about it,” she told the Post.
Instead, Kim said, she tried to please her parents and became a taxation auditor for the state. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.
Then one day nine years ago, she saw a blue NYPD recruitment advertisement — and decided to go for it.
“It’s irony,” she recalled with a laugh. “I took the test, and I got hired in 2014. And now, five years later, I am a recruiter here.
“At the end, law enforcement, it was a clear call.”
Still, Kim didn’t tell her family until she was through the application process.
“I couldn’t. I was pretending — every day I [went] to the auditor job. … I was waiting.” she said. “I didn’t tell anyone in my family.”
Her family was shocked and concerned when she finally broke the news, Kim said. It took months, she said, but she was finally able to convince them that the cop job was the right fit for her.
Now-retired Detective Agnes Chan can relate.
In 1980, she became the first Asian-American woman to graduate from the NYPD.
And as of last month, there were 246 Asian-American women on the force.
Seven female Asian-Americans were part of the last graduating class.
In all, there are just under 3,000 Asian-Americans in the 36,000-strong department.
In a statement to the Post, NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the NYPD “constantly strives to have our officers reflect the diverse community they serve” and is “actively working to recruit more Asian women into the ranks of the NYPD.”
Chan recalled her own journey in joining the NYPD — while her mother pleaded with her to choose another career path.
There were only three other Asian-Americans in her Police Academy class, Chan said, adding that they met each other on the first day and have since kept in touch. But she acknowledged that she didn’t immediately realize she was the only Asian woman.
“You’re trying to blend in to be part of the family, the police family,” she said. “That thought never even crossed our mind, of how many Asians were on the job. We just knew that there wasn’t many.”
Chan attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice and interned for the NYPD’s Fifth Precinct at the urging of a sociology professor.
She was tasked with handing out recruitment pamphlets, when one day she and her friends half-heartedly decided to take the written exam.
Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to America at 10 years old, waited until the night before she was sworn in to break the news to her parents. When she did, her mother offered to give her money for cosmetology school, instead.
“In Hong Kong, they don’t trust the police,” she said.
“There’s a Chinese saying — ‘Good son do not become a cop,’” she translated, as she reiterated the words in Cantonese.
Chan, now 59, was on the job for 20 years — taking on the streets of Spanish Harlem, then Chinatown, before moving to more specialized units. She retired as a detective in 2000.
“If you like it, you stay. If you love it, you stay for your 20 years,” she said.
Candida Sullivan joined the force nearly 15 years ago — putting aside her MBA and leaving behind a stable job in finance.
She had been working for CIBC World Markets in the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan when her life changed forever.
“I was down there for 9/11,” she said, holding back tears. “My whole life changed after that. I wanted to do something more with my life — I wanted to help.
“I just saw a lot of [the first responders] going towards something that humanly, our instinct is to walk away from — they had to go towards it.”
Sullivan signed up in 2003 and left her steady job of six years to become a police officer in July 2004. She only recalls two other Asian-American women in her Police Academy class, something that she said did not surprise her.
“Especially with female Asians, it’s definitely not something that’s embedded through us,” Sullivan said. “To be raised to go into this field — teachers, doctors, that’s what they focus us on, but I took a risk.”
Sullivan attended Binghamton University, where she studied math and economics.
“I totally took a 360” by joining the force, she said. “Friends were shocked. I never spoke about this growing up.”
She was on patrol for approximately 10 years — first as a police officer in Midtown South for six years, then as a sergeant in the northern Bronx, and later as a lieutenant in Washington Heights, before moving into her current role.
“There’s a lot more opportunity than [people] realize — this is such a large organization, there’s opportunities for everyone,” she said. “This is a great way to fulfill your life.”
Sullivan lives in Orange County, where she is raising two children with her husband, a retired member of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit.