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Supporters hope to see promotion of first Palisades Park police Korean supervisor

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

PUBLIC SAFETY: A large, enthusiastic crowd is expected this Tuesday for what promises to be the promotion of the first Korean ranking officer in the history of the Palisades Park Police Department.

Supporters are anticipating unanimous approval — unless the proposal to promote Detective Shawn M. Lee is somehow altered.

The borough police committee unanimously agreed that Lee, who joined the department 11 years ago, is the “most suited and successful candidate for the position of sergeant,” Police Chief Benjamin Ramos told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

Lee “exhibits the highest levels of discipline essential to the command staff of a paramilitary organization,” Ramos wrote in a letter to the council.

The committee, which interviewed 15 candidates for supervisory positions, cited Lee’s work ethic, as well as his “loyalty to the community and dedication to his oath of office,” the chief said.

Although Palisades Park has the state’s largest concentration of Koreans, only two of the department’s 31 officers are of that nationality.

“There is [an] urgent need to represent the Korean community by fostering a harmonious relationship between the police department and the community we serve,” Ramos wrote.

And although a lieutenant’s position also is available, the chief cited an “immediate need” for the new sergeant.

Lee, who was honorably discharged after serving three years in the U.S. Army as a combat tank crewman during the Kosovo Conflict, was a special police officer and dispatcher with the borough from 2001 to 2004 after serving as a volunteer intern.

He’s received the department’s prestigious Police Valor Award, as well as the PBA’s Meritorious Award, and was inducted into the Police Honor Legion for arresting an armed suspect.

A borough Police Honor Guard member, Lee has been assigned the past three years to the detective bureau, “a crucial area to consider as a prerequisite for a leadership position, but more importantly a key area to engage with the Korean community,” Ramos said.

He also serves on the Bergen County Rapid Deployment Force.

Lee is president of KABLE (Korean American Brotherhood in Law Enforcement), a non-profit collection of local, county, state and federal law enforcement officers pledged to foster and promote police-community partnerships.

“We are confident that this is the first step to reinforce the credibility and dedication of our [department] to the residents, merchants and community in which we serve.”

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