October 29, 2016
By Steven Wishnia
New York, NY – One by one, they ascended the stage at One Police Plaza. The announcer called out their names, Choudhury and Das, Hossain and Howard, Rahman, Rodriguez, and Russell.
They saluted Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, crossed the stage to receive their diplomas from him, posed for pictures with him as relatives in the audience raised their cameraphones and adjusted the framing, and shook hands with their union president, Syed A. Rahim of Communications Workers of America Local 1182.
They were New York City’s 115 newest Level I traffic enforcement agents, who graduated from the Police Department’s 15-week training course on Oct. 26. In the training, they learned the rules and regulations governing city traffic, how to direct traffic and write summonses for parking and moving violations, how to scan license plates with the department’s electronic Parking Tickets Device, and did role-playing exercises to learn how to interact with the public.
“For the past 15 weeks, we have all daydreamed about this moment,” valedictorian Abu Jahid told them. “We are now prepared to join the greatest police department in the world.” He praised the training course’s instructors, telling his fellow graduates, “let us approach our new jobs as traffic enforcement agents with the same dedication as them.”
“I’m excited to be in the Police Department,” Jahid, who immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh when he was 17, said after the ceremony. He worked as a security guard at City College before deciding to become a traffic agent, partly because it’s a good, stable city job and partly because it’s “making money for the city, helping the city.” He says he ultimately wants to be a police officer.
“I welcome them to their new home and congratulate them on successfully completing their training,” Rahim said. “As union president, I’m going to help all of them if they have any problems. I’m taking care of their salary and I’m trying to get them promoted as soon as possible. I’m working to upgrade their benefits.”
The new agents will likely be called upon to direct traffic and assist police during the Halloween and Thanksgiving Day parades, the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and on New Year’s Eve, said Thomas Chan, chief of the department’s Transportation Bureau.
“It’s not an easy job, but we are certainly proud of them,” he said. Traffic agents facilitate the movement of traffic, and “without the movement of traffic, the city would come to a grinding halt,” he continued. “We appreciate that they come in in rain or shine or snow or inclement weather, and they make the difference in terms of safety for our pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. I am proud to have them.”