Rookie Paterson police officer proudly wears hijab on the job
Police Officer Serein Tamimi of the Paterson Police Department (FOX 5 NY)
PATERSON, N.J. (FOX 5 NY) - The Paterson Police Department is known for being diverse. That diversity is now historic.
Serein Tamimi, 22, is the first Palestinian American female officer on the Paterson police force.
"I want to be out there, changing the community, helping others that can't help themselves," Tamimi said.
She has answered a call to protect and serve and promote tolerance.
"Because there's such a negative backlash against Muslims in the media and how we're portrayed—being terrorists, I just want to show everybody that that's not everybody," Tamimi said. "There's always a few bad seeds in every area. As a whole, we're a better people."
Paterson is a community of many races, many faiths. Until now, the police department had 15 Muslim officers on the streets and all of them are men.
Was Tamimi at all worried about being so much more visible in public than culturally many Muslim women are?
"Honestly no, everybody has been very supportive in my decision," she said. "Been getting a lot of support from everybody."
Paterson scored another first as Officers Tamimi, Yeniry Medina and Gabriella Toribio were the department's first all-female graduating class."
"I think it's great that people see other females taking the job of leadership in the community," Medina said.
"Some girls they feel intimidated or they don't feel like they can do it," Toribio added. "But any girl can do it. They just got to be positive, keep a good mindset."
Tamimi will proudly wear her hijab while at work. She expects that some will have questions. She looks forward to answering them.
"In the academy, everyone was like, 'How are you going to wear that on the street—is it going to get in the way of your police work?' I'll just tell them, 'I've been wearing it for a long time now, it's never come in the way of anything I've done,'" Tamimi said. "Honestly, it's a great representation of who Muslims are and how we want to be portrayed in this community."