On My Honor,
I Will Never Betray My Badge,
My Integrity, My Character,
Or The Public Trust,
I Will Always Have the Courage to Hold Myself
And Others Accountable For Our Actions,
I Will Always Uphold The Constitution, My Community And The Agency I Serve.
The National Law Enforcement Oath of Office

Hostos’ Department of Public Safety is not only respected citywide for the incredible job it does keeping the campus safe; it is also well known for treating each and every person who visits the campus with a level of respect unrivaled in the law enforcement community.

In an effort to salute “Hostos’ Finest,” and other Peace Officers around the nation, Hostos held its annual National Peace Officer Memorial Day Ceremony on May 14.

Celebrated annually throughout the nation on May 15, National Peace Officer Memorial Day honors federal, state and local officers who were killed or disabled in the line of duty. This holiday is observed in conjunction with Police Week.
Chief Arnaldo Bernabe, Director of Campus Police & Security Services at Hostos Community College, told those in attendance that while the willingness to risk everything for a complete stranger is extraordinary, it is also commonplace for law enforcement officers. Chief Bernabe has been with Hostos for 23 years and with The City University of New York (CUNY) for 24.

“Today, we remember and honor the memory and sacrifices made by the men and women who have lost their lives while protecting the communities they serve and who keep the promise, no matter at what cost,” Chief Bernabe said. “We also take time to congratulate those officers who are still with us today, and in what has become an annual tradition here at Hostos Community College, we honor our very own law enforcement officers, our CUNY Peace Officers.”

Chief Bernabe also presented the following Hostos Officers and other Hostos staff with the following awards:
2014 Attendance Award – Second Consecutive Year, Peace Officer Fred Dávila
2014 Attendance Award – Campus Security Assistant Monday Nekenchor
2014 – Campus Security Assistant of the Year Award – Arlene Trinidad
2014 Sergeant of the Year Award – Sergeant Joseph Adeleye
2014 Officer of the Year Award – Peace Officer Halidu Youngo

In addition, several other Officers received Service Awards for their years of Service at Hostos Community College.

Department of Public Safety Campus Team Player Award:
Professor Sandy Figueroa, David Vázquez, Chief Frank Virone, Brandy Peer, Priscilla Shannon-Walker, Robert Williams, and Peter Hernández.

Stay connected to the Public Safety Department at Hostos:
—    http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/publicsafety/
—    https://www.facebook.com/HostosPeaceOfficers
—    https://twitter.com/HCCPublicSafety

Hostos Professor Howard Jordan offered these thoughts from what
was a powerful and important event:

I must admit that on May 14, as I headed to the National Peace Officer Memorial Day event at the Savoy Multipurpose room at Hostos, I felt conflicted. Many of my generation suffered from a type of Latino split personality that accompanies us aging activists who seem to have a love/hate relationship with the law enforcement community.  On the one hand, we applaud the work that these Peace Officers do to ensure the safety of our beloved educational institution, but we are also extremely troubled by citizen uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore and the growing protest movements like BlackLivesMatter in urban communities.

Somehow this activity was different.  I knew Chief Arnaldo Bernabe, Director of Public Safety, as a humble servant of the Hostos community since my arrival at this cherished college of learning.  He was the first community college employee to receive the Sloan Public Service Award and had practiced community policing before it became known as “community policing.” More compelling, the Master of Ceremonies would be my colleague and friend of many years Professor Héctor Soto.  Soto is one of the Puerto Rican community’s gifted lawyers having served as Executive Director of NYC Civilian Review Board during the Dinkins administration. I thought to myself Bernabe and Soto, where community policing meets police accountability.

I reflected on how this activity was equally important in rejecting prevailing stereotypes of activists for police reform like myself.  We had often been cast as “police-haters” unsympathetic to the dangers of police work, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. While I had some runs with select peace officers in my time by my calculation I had about fourteen students during my tenure at Hostos that had gone on to join the NYPD, had regular Community Affairs officers address my classes, and even had some peace officers, like Corporal Clara Albino, as former students.

The afternoon activities began with a retrospective analysis by Prof. Soto to those gathered of the long history of community-police relations.  He spoke of the creation of the first police force in 1829 and the tumultuous sixties where National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders known as the Kerner Commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of 1967 police-related race riots had concluded that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, and one white— separate and unequal.” It was a bone chilling indictment of predominantly white police departments for neglecting people of color.

According to Prof. Soto, since those dark times we had come a very long way. Many police departments now had representative numbers of African-Americans, Latinos and people of color. Some had embraced the concept of community policing -a partnership between communities and police towards building mutual trust and respect.  Hostos Community College best personified this new way of looking at cops and community.

Prof. Soto’s remarks were followed by Interim President David Gómez who led a precession of Vice-Presidents of the college present to show their gratitude to the officers.  President Gómez shared with those assembled how it was the consistent nightmare of any college president that a violent outbreak at the college might result in tragic deaths. He told the story of when he first moved into Hostos he arrived informally dressed in jeans, and though the peace officers did not know he was the incoming president, they treated him with the dignity they afford all college guests.  Since that time he concluded “they have embraced and received me into the Hostos family. We talk about our families, kids, dreams and future.”

The most moving part of the event was when Chief Bernabe led us in a moment of silence in tribute to officers fallen in the line of duty and the presentation of awards to Hostos peace officers. Among the fallen Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu shot and killed from an ambush while sitting in their patrol car at the intersection of Myrtle and Thompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Police Officer Daryl Pierson shot and killed while involved in a foot pursuit of a suspect following a traffic stop. Recently Brian Moore, a plainclothes New York police officer who died earlier after being shot in the head on a Queens street.  Preliminary statistics released by the FBI show that 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014 an increase of almost 89 percent when compared to the 27 officers killed in 2013.

The peace officers then raised their right hands and recited the National Oath of Honor pledging “I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust…and will always uphold the constitution, my community and the agency I serve.” Chief Bernabe called up to the dais each peace officer starting with those who have served decades at Hostos to the recently arrived “newbies” to receive their well-deserved certificates of recognition. Bernabe closed the event stressing the importance of cementing police-community associations by quoting Robert Peel founder of the first modern police force “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community” 

As I left the Peace Officer Memorial Day to go to my class I had the opportunity to speak to many peace officers shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. I was glad I had come to the event and silently pledged to work harder to in President Obama’s words “heal the rifts” between cops and community.  Hostos Peace officers do not get the recognition they richly deserve and I want them to know their contribution of giving of their lives to keep the faculty safe and the students learning is truly valued and respected.  Un saludo y felicitaciones to our Peace Officers.

Howard Jordan
Hostos Professor

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.