Meet the first Muslim Precinct Commander in the NYPD: Capt. Adeel Rana

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NYPD Precinct Commander Adeel Rana of the 84th Precinct. Photo: Facebook NYPDBrooklynNorth

Despite all the social distancing and isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic, people in the community began visiting the offices of the New York Police Department’s 84th Precinct after July 8, 2020, carrying cakes and sweets to felicitate the first Muslim to make it to Precinct Commander in NYPD.. They had heard about the appointment of Capt. Adeel Rana. One of the cakes brought in said, “And Another One,” signifying how many cakes had come before it.

Needless to say Rana’s Muslim brethren are overjoyed. But many more from other communities are excited as well.  Despite being of Pakistani origin (Capt. Rana was born in Faisalabad and came here as a child), he told Desi Talk, “I have had an outpouring of support from Indians, Bangladeshis, Jewish people, Christians, Sikhs … everyone is so excited about this appointment.”

This Sept. 17, 2020, on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, one of the patrol units posted the picture above with the words —NYPD Patrol Borough Brooklyn NorthToday we celebrated the historic assignment of Captain Adeel Rana, the NYPD’s first Muslim Precinct Commander #84Precinct NYPD 84th Precinct

And so they would, because Rana has worked to bridge the divide between different cultures and communities and most of all, increased awareness within the NYPD about the practices in these varied cultures in all his years with the NYPD. Today NYPD holds Iftar dinners; and most officers know more about various cultures, like why some women may be covering their heads with a hijab, etc. It is officers like Capt. Rana who have been instrumental in that consciousness.

The 84th Precinct serves the northwestern section of Brooklyn and is home to Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Vinegar Hill, and Farragut Residences. Urbanareas.net observes that it is home to many ethnic and economic strata. It also houses the Court system, federal, state and local, as well as diverse commercial establishments, from factories to upscale stores. According to Wikipedia, Brooklyn Heights is an affluent residential neighborhood witl low-rises and brownstone rowhouses, Vinegar Hill has a large Irish-American population. And then there’s the Brooklyn Bridge Park. With its mixed population and businesses, Rana says, it is a beautiful precinct. The area has gone through rapid growth population-wise as well as commercially and recreationally, and more cops were to be assigned there according to a 2015 news report in Brooklynegle.com. “The 84th Precinct is an exciting composite of all the elements noted above. It is a wonderful community to serve,” says urbanareas.n.et

From the time he joined NYPD in the mid 1990s, diversity in the ranks has grown exponentially. “Back then it was a handful of South Asian officers. Today there are thousands,” Rana says. The NYPD Muslim Officers Society alone, which he helped found in 2006, and of which he is president since 2013, has a membership of around 1,000.

“Since the early days of my career it has been my dream to rise through the ranks of the greatest police department in the world and help further the mission of the NYPD,” he said.

Conceding that it was a “great accomplishment and honor” to reach the rank of Precinct Commander, Capt. Rana noted, “It was the first time in NYPD history that a Muslim-Pakistani-American was assigned as a Commanding Officer of any Patrol Precinct in New York City.  This program will assist me in advancing in the NYPD and continue to make history by applying my knowledge,” he said.

In a sense, he had been preparing for this position where some 280 personnel are under his command, from the time he joined as an auxiliary police officer in 1995.  Three years later in 1998, he joined the New York Army National Guard racking up some 5,000 hours of volunteer service assisting in numerous arrests of violent offenders during robberies, assaults and murders.

While actively pursuing criminals he also understood the importance of community interaction and positive relationships, he says. Perhaps very few

“I spent hundreds of hours helping build relationships with the diverse communities while on the streets in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.

While in the National Guard, Rana served at the World Trade Center after the attacks on September 11th, and felt the devastation first hand.

“I knew that I wanted to be a part of preventing terrorism in the future and decided that I would join the NYPD as an Officer to help fight crime and build relationships with the Muslim community,” he says.
He continued his passion for community outreach even after becoming an NYPD police officer in 2004.

“As an immigrant you don’t know what is the future open to you. You think you are here just to support your family, but seeing someone rise for example, like me as Precinct Commander, makes one feel, they can do it too. And this goes for younger police oficers who join the force,” Rana says.

In 2004 he entered the Police Academy where he was selected Company Sergeant and assigned to the 61st Precinct upon graduation where he excelled and was quickly assigned to the position of Assistant Field Intelligence Officer.

In this position he helped close out many felonies, including a search warrant resulting in 25 guns recovered and the largest seizure of fireworks ever, totaling over 9,000 pounds, he recalls. In addition he volunteered time to help start and build the 61 Precinct Explorer Program that aimed at building community relations in addition to strong enforcement.

“This early experience  helped me gain insight into all levels of policing and how a successful police command should operate,” Rana says.
In 2007, he was asked to join the Community Affairs Bureau in a project of Immigrant Community Outreach.

He developed the NYPD Youth Soccer & Cricket program which eventually attracted the participation of more than 5,000 diverse Muslim youth from around the city.

NYPD Muslim Officers Society members pose for photo. Photo: Facebook NYPDMuslim. Capt. Adeel Rana has been the president of this organization since 2013.

He gained other laurels at this time. During his first few months in Community Affairs he made two Grand Larceny arrests taking his total to over 150 arrests in just the first three years of service.

In 2009, he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to 72 Precinct. First assigned to patrol, Rana was quickly moved to Anti-Crime/Burglary Apprehension team as a supervisor. At the same time, he continued helping fellow officers in many different commands. In 2010, he was transferred to Community Affairs to continue assisting with the youth and community programs that he had developed.

In 2013, Rana was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to Transit District 20 as the Operations Coordinator.

“This position allowed me to continue to learn about different aspects of the operational side of a police command and all of the important work that must be conducted to produce an effectively and efficiently command,” he told Desi Talk.

His outstanding work in community outreach saw him back to Community Affairs in 2014, only now as the Commanding Officer of the Immigrant Outreach Unit.

The ultimate responsibility of this unit was to identify and build relationships with all of the diverse communities served in NYC. Under Rana’s command the performance of the unit was highly regarded throughout the department and other city agencies.

“The unit established the method and example of highly effective community outreach,” and it afforded him an opportunity to interact with executives throughout the city.

“These interactions gave me great insight into the issues and challenges that a Commanding Officer needs to manage on a day to day basis,” Rana says.

In 2015, he was selected by the NYPD to participate in a U.S. State Department sponsored law enforcement exchange program with Pakistan. During this trip he spent two weeks conducting meetings and sharing best practices relating to policing and community relations.

Danger Comes With It

Capt. Rana’s precinct is extremely diverse with people of Arab, Hispanic, African origin,and Indians, such that he appears the perfect fit to command a force that has to deal with a multicultural population.

His day does not end with the clock. While Covid-19 has put a damper on too much group activity after work, Rana finds himself continuing to meet community members whether in person or online, mentoring some, and generally going to various houses of worship.

“The job doesn’t stop when you sign off for the day,” Rana says. “My wife’s upset and says, ‘Oh so now you are going to be seen even less'” he laughs. “But there are always people asking for guidance, mentorship, … and I am okay with that.”

And as for what a typical day is like, Rana cracks up, “There is never a typical day. That’s the beauty of policing. Even now I am speaking to you from a protest demonstration by teachers.”

Also, there are a lot of moving parts to a day. After he comes in and gets briefed and looks over what happened in his few hours of absence, he decides how to allocate resources depending on the tasks ahead.

“Policing is unique. And danger comes with it,” he says when asked if any violence has happened since July 8 when he took office. “Danger goes with the territory.”

Yet, his words for younger members of the community who want to join the force – “It’s one of the best careers you can have – not just in terms of job satisfaction, but even in terms of benefits,” he says. Most important of all, he believes, “Be part of the system to make the change from within, whether in the police force or as a lawyer or doctor. Don’t just sit back outside and criticize.”

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