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Shooting straight in Big Apple

Stanley George captain in NYPD, the first Indian American to reach this post.  

An NYPD cop? Ah..visions of guns, smoke and a royal chase by uniformed men who keep chewing gum conjures up in your mind. But life's not NYPD Blue, you learn from Stanley George, the first Indian American to become a captain in NYPD. It is the highest office anyone can reach in the police department by writing examinations.

He does not look like the glamourised American cop at all. A mild mannered Malayali, who is great fun to be with, recounting life as a police official, that's what this Nooranad born guy is. Every two years he comes home to Kerala, to Kumily where he has a house. And that's how we sat talking in The Hindu office, which he came to visit.

“My father was a pastor and I studied in a Government school in Anakkara, Noornad, till Std. X. His family migrated to the US then. After doing my high school there, I did my bachelors in accounting and joined the police department as an accountant at age 22. After two years, I wanted something else from life and decided to join the Police Academy. My family opposed it, but I managed to get them round. At 25, he was in the NYPD (New York Police Department). When I joined it was tough. Only one in 11 who applied qualified to get in,” says Stanley. He was promoted quickly to the different grades of detectives (one has to pass exams at every turn). He was in the Criminal Justice Bureau too.

He became captain in 2007. Stanley has 600 police personnel in his charge today. There are very few Indians in the NYPD, ‘maybe 35 in a force of 40,000!' “The immigrant Indian community is doing pretty well, but yes, crimes involving Indian-American youths do exist, but not much.” Racism is a delicate issue, which does not largely exist overtly, but then, does not racism exist here, wonders Stanley.

Unhealthy gangs

In schools ethnic minority communities often group together for fear of getting bullied. In rare instances, these groups turn into gangs which are unhealthy. The cultural milieu is such that nobody tells the parents about their children who may have gone astray, unlike the scenario in India. But often ethnic Indian and Chinese families are targeted by criminals, mainly because Indians stash away gold and the Chinese are known to hoard cash, a habit formed in China! Crimes that happen because of too much video games is common among the youth. In one instance, Stanley says, they staged a robbery exactly like the one in a game.

But what is different is that crime has not increased in New York. “In the last 16 years statistics show that it has decreased 79 per cent.” How? “A police Commissioner called Bill Bratton brought in a system called Compstat (Computers statistic) in 1994. It was called the broken window theory. It means even if it is a case of a window being broken by a miscreant, a very small crime, the punishment is comparatively severe. When little crimes get punished, they do not graduate to bigger crimes. The computerised record of crimes helped. Actually, the camera is the hero. Surveillance cameras are carefully monitored and most criminals get caught. Their modus operandi becomes known to cops. This helped bring down crime”, Stanley says.

When people from countries like Ireland, Europe and other western countries have taken more than 70 years to integrate into American society, the assimilation process of Indians has been rapid, according to Stanley. In under 20 years, Indians integrate. But the youth are forced to have two identities, one in school or college, and the other at home, where parents try hard to live like ‘back home'. Though youngsters protest and go away from it all for a period, they do come back when they themselves start a family.

Stanley himself had a regular arranged marriage with Beena from Parumala.. His son and daughter, Kevin and Kristen, are ‘Malayalis at home', speaking Malayalam.

What he likes about the US is that everybody is equal; there is no VIP culture like we have here, where people jump queues.

What he does not like is the mechanical life people lead there, they don't have a social life like they have here. But he does not crib about the dusty roads, like most Kerala-Americans. “I am a Malayali at heart,” the NYPD captain says.

Close encounters

Where was Stanley when the towers came down in 2001? “It was my first day of job in that sector, ready to escort prisoners to court, half a mile away. I drove there and back and that's when the second tower came down. It was terrible, clearing bodies, danger lurking everywhere and arms and legs strewn all over. It took a long time for me to forget that.”

Another interesting detail is that Arzoo Bedi….does that ring a bell? Yes, the Indian woman who was part of the group which prevented the Times Square bombing last year. Yes, Arzoo Bedi was Stanley's aide, his driver. “One day in 2009, she was saying she was not happy with her job as a cop and I was trying to tell her otherwise when I got a call about the plane crashing into Hudson River. We rushed there and helped rescue the people. It was really rewarding. Well, she changed her mind then,” says Stanley smiling.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 11:34:45 PM |

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