Indian-origin police officer becomes highest-ranking South Asian woman in NYPD

New York: Captain Pratima Bhullar Maldonado, an Indian-origin police officer, has become the highest-ranking South Asian woman in the New York Police Department, after her recent promotion to the rank of Captain.

Maldonado runs the 102nd Police Precinct in South Richmond Hill, Queens. She was promoted to the rank of Captain last month, CBS News reported on Monday.

The mother of four was born in Punjab and lived there until she was 9 before moving to Queens in New York.

“It feels like coming home. I spent more than 25 years of my life in this precinct when I was growing up,” Maldonado said.

South Richmond Hill is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the country.

“Going to the same Gurdwara that I did as a child, and now as a captain, I love it,” Maldonado said as she visited the gurdwara.

She told CBS 2 her new role will help with community policing.

“There are language barriers, people who can’t speak the language, English is a second language. I’ve seen that firsthand growing up here,” she said.

Maldonado is the highest-ranking South Asian woman in the NYPD – a position she was promoted to last month. But it wasn’t easy climbing the ranks, the report said.

“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 to do what you got to do,” Maldonado said.

“It’s a big responsibility. I want to be a better and positive example, not only for my community, for other females, kids that see us every day. Because that would change their perspective of how they view law enforcement,” she added.

According to the NYPD, of the department’s 33,787 members, 10.5 per cent 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,” Maldonado said.

As New York City celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Maldonado reflected on her late father.

“My dad actually drove a taxi for many years. He supported us. He was a hard worker. He passed away in 2006, before I became a cop. He would have been so proud right now,” she said.