Student Gets to Be Top Cop

On a whim, Cardinal Spellman High School sophomore Lauren Ruthie Graham became the Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Bronx for a day. A flute player and enthusiastic student, Graham submitted an essay to the Police Athletic League’s Police Commissioner for a Day Essay Contest and was chosen out of thousands of submissions from across the city as one of the more than 130 winners.

Graham’s essay was about ways to bring police and at-risk teens together in a regular and positive way in order to create a better relationship between the two and to lower crime in the city.

“I never really thought about it,” Graham said about her preparation for writing her contest winning essay. “There was an announcement in school, Wednesday, and it was due Friday morning. I was just brainstorming when I had some free time and I just started writing. I really didn’t expect to win it.”

Graham was sworn in as Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Bronx at a special ceremony with the more than 130 other student winners at a special ceremony Wednesday, June 2. The students spent the next few hours shadowing the police officers and learning about their newly acquired policing duties.

“It was terrific,” Graham said. “We had the breakfast and ceremony. Then I went back to the 40th Precinct in the Bronx, which is the borough headquarters, so basically anything that happens in the Bronx, everything goes here. This is a really big job, but it’s really organized and it’s really interesting.”

Along with learning about the day-to-day operations of the central policing agency for the borough, Graham learned about finger printing procedures, duty rosters and assigning police activities. She also toured the Highway Harbor Patrols, the Mounted Police and the Canine, Aviation and Emergency Services Units.

The Police Commissioner for a Day contest is organized through the Police Athletic League and has been around for at least 70 years. The question posed by this year’s contest was ‘What proactive measures would you implement to improve the relationship between the Police Department and the young people of New York City?’

For Dawn Maniglia, the 10th grade honors teacher at Cardinal Spellman High School who taught Graham this past school year, seeing Graham’s essay selected as a winner in the contest was not a surprise. The essay now hangs in her class.

“I’m so proud of her. I’m proud she took the initiative to try it. I made many students aware of the contest, and I’m glad she took the initiative and I think after Lauren, many more will,” she said.

Although the experience did not lead Graham to change her mind about a future in music, she was pleasantly surprised by what she saw. “That’s a great job, but it’s not for me. It was a really good experience, but I’m not the tough type,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or

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