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Olufunmilola Obe : Celebrating Women’s History Month

Olufunmilola Obe is the Deputy Chief of the New York Police Department. She is the Assistant Chief in charge of Patrol Borough Manhattan North (PBMN). Obe was born in the United States but as a child, she moved to and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Obe’s family is originally from the West African country. Even though Obe has been based in the US for several years now, she still has family members who live in Nigeria. While growing up in Nigeria, she did much of her schooling. In Nigeria, the first level of education is called primary school. Obe attended primary school at an institution known as Command Children’s School, Bonny Camp Lagos. After that, she progressed to what is known as secondary school, which is the equivalent of the US’s high school. She enrolled at Federal Governments Girls College Sagamu. Obe had been studying at university for a year when she had to move to the United States. She continued her journey in education when she arrived completing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at City College of New York. She also completed a Master’s in Public Administration from Marist College. 

Obe has a passion for people and she believes that this is one of the reasons that led to her joining the NYPD. She started by joining the Police Cadet Corp for a two-year internship. She found out about the Cadet Corp while she was studying. It was also a great surprise to find out that when one joins the Cadet Corp, the NYPD pays the tuition fees of recruits. The time spent working as a cadet gave her the time to learn more about police culture and the people around her. It also afforded her the chance to decide if she wanted to be a police officer. In an interview with LittleAfrica News, she said “That’s how I got on. You have to have a passion for the job, a passion for the people. That’s what made me join.” Obe has worked in several divisions of the NYPD which include Patrol for a number of precincts. She has worked in the Police Commissioner’s Office and the School Safety Division (SSD). When speaking on the presence of African immigrants in the NYPD, Obe said she cannot give an exact number because as far as she knows, the police department only differentiates people on a racial basis. There is no system that takes into account whether an officer is an immigrant from a particular region. She is a member of the African Law Enforcement Organization (ALEO). “It is actually like a melting pot. We have members from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mali. It is actually nice when we have our meetings. We reach out to immigrant communities in the city,” she said. The organization was formally recognized by the NYPD in December 2021. Obe has existing relationships with African community leaders in New York City, particularly with Imam Souleymane Konate. “Imam Konate was and still is a strong partner,” Obe said. In partnership with Imam Konate, Obe managed to organize football games when she was Commander of the 28th Precinct. These games would involve police officers and members of the community, in an effort to create relationships that are usually dominated by mistrust. Obe says that the NYPD is involved in many community projects that cater to all members of the community. They do not necessarily only focus on the African immigrant community. This is in relation to initiatives such as The Law Enforcement Explorers program, the Police Athletic League (PAL), and the summer camp program. 

When Obe speaks of the women that have influenced her and played a big role in her life, she mentions her mother and aunt. “Both women were inspirational. I don’t come from wealth. I had a decent childhood, I will say. My mother did her best given the circumstances she was faced with. But my aunt was phenomenal and instrumental in our lives financially,” Obe said. She compliments her role models for being hard workers, who were savvy about life and passed on those life lessons to her and her sister. “Thankfully they are both alive today and I still look up to them and thank God for their lives,” she adds. For women who are in the NYPD who are looking to move up the ladder, Obe has some words of advice for them. “It’s a very tough journey. There is no doubt that there are a lot of challenges on the way,” she says. While it is a challenging job it is also one that affords a lot of benefits. She says the young women on the police force should take all the promotional exams if they seek promotions and growth. Obe acknowledges that not every woman in the NYPD wants to move up the ladder. “There is something for everyone in the NYPD. It is a large organization in which one can find something she is suitable and comfortable with,” she offers as her conclusion. 

 

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