Today he is one of 80 Korean officers but the only one who was recognized at the Asian Jade Society's awards banquet last week.
"It was a certificate of recognition to recognize Asian Americans on the job," said Kim, an officer in the 109th Precinct, which covers Flushing, College Point and Whitestone. "I felt honored."
He met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at the May 25 banquet at NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza in Manhattan as part of Asian Heritage Month.
Of the eight Asian American cops honored, he was the only Korean in the company of Chinese, Indian and Guyanese officers. One officer from the 113th Precinct and another from the 115th also were honored at the banquet.
He said he became a policeman after growing up in Bayside and attending Queens College, where he met a few other officers who encouraged him to join the force.
"Someone suggested taking a civil service exam," he said, a test that led to his placement in the NYPD just months after his college graduation.
"The timing worked out well or else I'd be out there looking for a job," Kim said. "Everything falls into place for a reason, and I was kind of enthusiastic and excited about going into the Police Department."
His first and only placement was with the 109th Precinct in Flushing, where he now works as a community affairs officer.
"I was very excited because it was an Asian community," he said.
He runs into old friends on the job every once in a while, Kim said.
"They find it surprising I'm in the Police Department but not that surprising," he said.
After joining the force, he worked his way into the Community Affairs department, where on his first day on the job, he found himself caring for the families of victims on board American Airlines' Flight 587 that crashed in the Rockaways in November 2001 en route to Santo Domingo.
"I went down there alone and met with many other community affairs officers," Kim said. "They eventually moved us over to get to the families, like a relief center.
"It was just a terrible sight because all you saw were families crying," he said. "It was a blunt (introduction) - here you are, community affairs."
In Flushing he handles many different concerns, ranging from disputes between neighbors to neighborhood noise violations.
"Our office gets a lot of bombardments of complaints that are obviously not emergencies," he said.
Kim deals with being a high-profile member of the community since many of the Koreans who stop in to the precinct know him or have heard of him. He also serves as a translator for the Korean community and has occasionally been assigned to special projects.
"I've been really busy," he said. "Ask any of my partners. I'm busy from the moment I walk in until the moment I leave."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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