Teenager spends day as police commish

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Gianna Lakenauth took over the NYPD for a day last week, but rather than joining the blue ranks, she is thinking of someday becoming a lawyer or government official.

Gianna, 14, of Ozone Park, became police commissioner for a day after turning in what the Police Athletic League judged as the best essay on the topic of "What steps would you take to reduce violent crimes and protect all New Yorkers?"

Gianna stood at a rostrum facing a packed auditorium at police headquarters at One Police Plaza in Manhattan June 3 and read her winning essay.

"I propose police programs that educate kids on things like acceptance of religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender — basically acceptance of each others' differences," she said.

"The crime rate has decreased considerably in New York, but still we can do more," she said. "After all, it's our lives that are endangered. Are they not worth saving?"

Gianna said he had thought about what she might want to do as an adult.

"I know that I want to do something to help people of the community," she said. "Maybe a lawyer or a government official."

Gianna said she entered the essay competition after her English teacher urged her to do so.

Not surprisingly, she said English was her favorite class at the John Adams Jump Start Academy in Ozone Park.

She said she had told her mother about the winning essay, but the good news could not be delivered in person, since her mother lives in the South American country of Guyana, where Gianna was born.

"There are immigration difficulties," Gianna said, adding that her mother had been trying to come to the United States for three years. "It seems like forever," she said.

Gianna visits her mother every summer.

She lives with her father and sister, Susanna, 13, in Ozone Park.

Besides the day as head of the NYPD, Gianna received $250 for her winning essay, got an overview of the police commissioner's duties and had lunch with him.

"What was very interesting was a tour by boat," she said. "We went out into the harbor and around Ellis Island."

Vashtie Manikdath of South Ozone Park spent the day as commander of Queens South (100th Precinct) and Yu Hao Zhang of Bayside was commander of Queens North (111th Precinct).

They were among 120 winning youngsters assigned to police duties for the day throughout the five boroughs. The jobs included deputy commissioners, police chiefs, borough commanders and precinct captains.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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