The National Asian Peace Officers Association (NAPOA) was founded in 1980 by three Asian-American police organizations from New York City, Los Angeles, and Northern California.

According to their website, their mission is to “promote diversity within the law enforcement community and open doors for advancement through leadership training, education and mentorship.”

Diversity remains an issue in most American industries, so the mission of NAPOA is important more so than ever, especially now given all that is happening with the police.  

From Aug. 15-18, 2016, NAPOA held its 29th Annual Training Symposium and Exhibition in Times Square.

Having grown from the original three organizations, NAPOA encompasses five chapters representing the different regions in the U.S., and serves as the umbrella organization for 25 Asian-American law enforcement organizations.

Many of the 200+ members in attendance were Filipino law enforcement professionals from San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, New Jersey and New York.

It is not common to think of Filipinos as police officers and federal marshals, but the American dream Filipino immigrant parents have extends to every profession, with law enforcement not being exempt.

At the “encouragement” of their immigrant parents, most Filipinos usually follow in their footsteps and pursue careers in the medical, real estate, engineering or accounting fields.

So, how did some of these Filipino police officers decide that law enforcement was the right profession for them?

Some knew when they were young and studied criminal justice in college before going to the police academy.

Others started after their time in the military, when they figured out that the corporate world wasn’t the right fit.

For one officer, all it took was a talk during a social outing with a former co-worker and, on a whim, he took the police test the next morning.

In eight months, he was a police officer.

Seventeen years later, he is a detective for the Oak Parks Police Department in Illinois, just west of Chicago, and avowed, “I made a pretty good decision.”

For every officer, the job starts with being on patrol.

Through the years on the beat, officers are given the opportunity to gain experiences and offered positions with other divisions in their departments.

These can range from being plainclothes officers at airports to getting involved with investigations in narcotics and gangs.

“There’s a myriad number of jobs,” said a 19-year veteran of the LAPD.

Indicating there are 250 jobs just within the LAPD, he guaranteed, “You won’t get bored.”

Bored, no.

Anxious and fearful?

Turn on the television, read a newspaper or news website, and the answer is obvious.


For Filipino parents, it’s not surprising that surprise was the initial reaction to their children picking a dangerous profession.

Surprise, of course, turned into concern and worry.

Tragically, for the parents and family of Filipino Officer Jonathan “JD” de Guzman, 43, of the San Diego Police Department, that anxiety and fear became a reality.

On July 28, Officer de Guzman was shot and killed while on duty.

He had a wife and two children.  

The reality for a law enforcement officers’ parents and families is that they have to accept the risk their loved one takes at their job simply because they proudly know that what they do as their profession makes a difference.

An officer remarked, “Our biggest thought on the job is, ‘How can I serve the public today? How can I make a difference today?’”

In his welcome address to NAPOA, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill acknowledged the tough times the police face right now.

He professed to the predominantly Asian-American police officers, most of them looking regal in their uniforms, that they had a moral obligation to move forward and to build connections with the communities and keep people safe.

His advice was to dig deep because what these officers do is important.

“Do make a difference,” he concluded.

Making a difference in communities that are distrustful against them is no easy feat.

Thus, the theme to this year’s conference, “Strength in Unity,” may well be the answer to regaining the trust between police and the communities they serve.

Strength in unity must come from everyone.

As O’Neill expressed in his speech [from the police], it’ll take hard work to build a connection with the communities.

Another officer offered that citizens should gather in masses the size of protests with the efforts directed towards cleaning up the neighborhoods.

While another officer indicated that support from local and national leaders is needed as well.

Having an organization like NAPOA is making a difference for Asian-American law enforcement professionals and the departments they serve.

The detective from Oak Parks explained it best why the existence of NAPOA is important:

“When I got into my police department, we had 125 officers. I was the only Asian looking officer. There was nobody in my department that looked like me or that grew up like me, with a rice cooker and a big rice dispenser in the kitchen, taking your shoes off at the door. I started meeting other Filipino officers from other agencies and I became a part of the Asian American Law Enforcement Association. I went to my first (NAPOA) conference and it was just amazing to see the amount of officers that were just like me. They grew up in Asian households. Both their parents are immigrants. I can now find people that I can talk about the same kind of issues that I have in my department. We can be role models to other Filipinos and Asians that are looking to get into law enforcement and let them know that if you want to be a police officer, there are people out there like you who are police officers.”

In addition, he added why Filipinos and Asians should become officers:

“If a White or Black officer comes to my aunts’ or uncles’ aid, maybe they might not feel as comfortable. But if they see an Asian officer, they’ll feel more comfortable. Like everybody else, you want to see people just like you.”

It is important for Filipinos to support peaceful protests affecting minority communities.

In addition, it is equally important for Filipinos to support their brothers, sisters and cousins in blue who, by having taken an oath, are courageously willing to sacrifice their lives.

They risk the well-being of their families at any given second, with their “ultimate objective [being] to make sure we did our job well, we did our job honorably and we go home to our families.”

Add comment

Security code

Latest comments