Guardians Association awards scholarships at annual dinner

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The Guardians Association held its 43rd annual awards and dinner dance at Antun’s in Queens Village last Friday to honor students as well as officers and civilians who have made a great impact on their communities.

The Guardians Association is a black fellowship that encourages its members to participate in community service and neighborhood outreach while being mentors to youth.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James attended the event.

“I’ve been coming to their dinner dances for some time,” James said. “It’s really critically important that we support the Guardians because they are the guardians of our community and guardians of our safety, and particularly now when we are experiencing record low levels of crime. You’ve got to take time out of your busy schedule to give them recognition and to give them praise.”

The Guardian Scholarships went to student awardees Evan Miller, Micah Green-Culp, Imani Cobb and Alexis Stewart, who lost her father in the line of duty.

“I am the surviving child of Detective Dillon Stewart, killed in the line of duty on Nov. 28, 2005,” Stewart said. “I stand in front of you proud to receive this award. As Maya Angelou once said ‘ I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.”

After the students gave their speeches, O’Neill also thanked the organization for its public service.

“Thank you for everything you do for the NYPD,” he said. “Thank you for everything you do for the Guardians, and most of all thank you for everything your organization does for this great city, specifically as it relates to recruiting, because I do not think we would be doing as well as we do.

“When you take a look at where the city was 20-25 years ago and where it is now, that does not happen by accident,” he said. “That is a direct result of the hard work that you do and the people that have come before you, and what they’ve done and that comes with great sacrifice.”

Expanding on the importance of the Guardians Association in terms of diversity within the Police Department was Felicia Richards, the vice president of the organization.

“The NYPD Guardians is one of the oldest ethnic fraternities in the Police Department,” Richards said. “Before us there weren’t any other ethnic organizations in 1943. We didn’t have the flexibility that we have now. One of my mentors, Bob Mirro, made sure I was up to date financially and understood networking. There were a lot of us, but our power wasn’t as big as it is now.”

Before the ‘80s, Richards explained that women were not allowed to become police officers if they were shorter than 5 feet, but she met the requirement by 3 inches. Black officers were not allowed to arrest white criminals unless they had a white partner.

Black officers and other minority officers also struggled to advance career-wise in the past, including those in community service jobs like the Person of the Year recipient Detective Tanya Duhaney of the 113th Precinct, who works with the Community Affairs Unit.

“Person of the Year is decided based on overall [accomplis­hments],” Richards said. “She helped an elderly man with no family, no heat in his house. Turned out he is a retired detective, 95 years old. Tanya took it upon herself to help him. She would bring him meals, take him to the doctor, come to work and she took care of him until he died. She arranged his funeral.”

The other awards recipients were Chief Rodney Harrison (Achievement Award), Guardians member Inez Cofield (Community Service Award), Tressa Campbell-Moody (Civilian of the Year), and the organization Agape Food Rescue received the Humanitarian Award for providing catering services for low-income families and the families of fallen officers.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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