Joanne Jaffe, NYPD
In Career Choice:
Ever since I was a child, I felt a strong desire to work in a
profession that makes a difference in the lives of everyday people.
By the time I entered college, I had narrowed my options down
to social worker or police officer. As I got to know several police
officers and detectives, I realized that joining the police department
would afford me the greatest opportunity to take a truly active
role and become a positive influence in other people’s lives.
Point: When I first joined the police department, many
male officers were hesitant to work with female officers on patrol.
I befriended another female rookie officer and we requested assignment
together as “sector (radio car) partners.” Having two female officers
on patrol together was very uncommon at the time (1980). There
was a lot of pressure to back down from the request, but we stood
our ground and got our chance. On our first radio car tour together
we felt a tremendous burden to prove ourselves. We responded to
an armed stick-up and made the arrest. We walked the gunman into
the precinct past the disbelieving stares of our colleagues who
had criticized our assignment. This was a pivotal moment mostly
because we proved to others and to ourselves that we could do
the job. That incident gave me confidence and made me more determined
to strive to succeed.
In my career I’ve been afforded many opportunities, including
the command of three distinct police precincts, a patrol borough
(Bronx), and a project to oversee the reengineering of the NYPD
Intelligence Division. I’ve served as the executive officer of
the Detective Bureau (city-wide detectives), and am currently
assigned to head the office that carries out the NYPD’s research
projects, planning and policy development initiatives. I can sincerely
say that I am most proud to have had the opportunity to work for,
lead, and be associated with so many hardworking, dedicated, and
self-sacrificing individuals, in such an important cause.
In 1985, I was promoted to se-rgeant and transferred to a busy
Queens stationhouse staffed with many “veteran” officers who had
difficulty taking direction from a younger female. I drew on the
strength of my friends and family and relied on my knowledge and
ability. Over time, I believe that I earned their respect and
changed many of their beliefs.
Theresa Melchione was one of my teachers at the John Jay College
of Criminal Justice and a retired member of the NYPD. She was
a true pioneer for women in the police department and she generously
shared her wisdom, experience and encouragement with all her students,
but mostly with me and other women considering careers in law
enforcement. Kathy Burke an experienced investigator also inspired
me. She overcame traditional barriers and achieved a true leadership
role among her colleagues in the Detective Bureau. I found her
courage and dedication inspiring.
Believe in Yourself. Self confidence is at the root of personal
success. Trust your instincts and ability to accomplish tasks.
Work hard. Take the necessary steps to achieve your goals. Success
doesn’t just happen to people. It requires constant discipline,
effort and dedication.
Continue to improve your skills. Never be satisfied. Never compromise
your personal values. Put things in perspective and realize that
even successful people have setbacks. Never surrender to obstacles.
Successful people persevere and continue to move forward. Be supportive
and surround yourself with supportive people. Be loyal and share
My goals haven’t really changed from when I first joined the NYPD.
Although I’ve moved up in rank, and have taken on larger tasks
and different responsibilities, I always continue to seek out,
and focus on real solutions that make a difference to keep people
safe and improve their quality of life.#
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