NEW YORK CITY - In the auditorium of One Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan, New York’s finest marches to the beat of a different drum.
The NYPD dance team, which started in 2022, held tryouts Thursday with the hopes of expanding.
"It's open to everyone," said officier Autumn-Rain Martinez, of the 108th Precinct in Queens, who serves as the team's president. "So, we have ranging from me, who has danced for my entire life to people who have never danced before – ever. But as long as you have the passion, that's what we care about the most."
The dance team is one of almost 50 that fall under the NYPD sports unit, which includes sports that tend to be more popular with male officers, such as boxing, paintball, hockey, rugby and baseball.
"The job is stressful and this is a way to completely release," adds officer Lauren Pagán, of the108th Precinct in Queens, who serves as the team's vice president. "I like that we're all girls, but I would really, really like to have men on the team too. I just want a bunch of people that like to dance. I want to be like one of the big teams. I want to be like the hockey team and say, ‘I got 30, 40 people on the team.’"
One move to attract more of their peers – pivoting to a new logo that included a male silhouette. To compete and travel, the team would need a squad of at least 30 dancers, funding and, of course, some competition.
"The fire department, if they want to start one, MTA Port Authority. Anybody," Martinez said. "So if anybody makes it a dance team, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to compete."
The ladies currently perform at other NYPD sports events, parades and schools.
"I just want a lot of community. I want the community to know we're not just all the bad stuff that everybody sees on TV, on YouTube and on Instagram. I want them to know they could come to us," Pagán said. "This is not a team just of law enforcement. These are civilians. We have civilians who are also on the team. I would love it if you just want to dance. Come let us know you want to dance. Try out with us."
"It's so awesome to go to the schools to see the kids, because then you get to inspire them to continue on with their exercising and their mental health," Martinez said. "Just influencing the kids to have a positive outlook in life and to teach them that cops aren't so scary, that's just another important part to teach them, you know?"