Two close friends who made history in the Edison Police Department

Edison Police Officers Neel Patel left, and Ayaz Mahmood at an Iftaar event in 2022. The two made history in March 2023 as the first South Asians to be promoted to Sergeant. Photo: courtesy Sgt. Ayaz Mahmood.

For Sergeant Neel Patel, 32, and fellow Ayaz Mahmood, 32, the historic importance of being recently promoted to their current positions, is no small matter. Both expressed how it was a big win and roadmap for the Desi community and that the momentum must be kept up.

Recently promoted to Sergeant by Edison Mayor Samip Joshi, they became the first two South Asians to reach that position in more than 100-years history of the Edison Police Department

In an interview with Desi Talk March 19, 2023, Mahmood, who was born in New York, and is a graduate in Economics from Rutgers University, said he felt being a policeman was his calling when he quit a banking job. A “lot of” of Mahmood’s cousins were in the New York Police Department and they were the source of inspiration for him.

For Patel, also a student of business management, who quit to join the police force, the inspiration was when he saw the first Indian American policeman Milan Patel, now deceased, and wished he could be one at the tender age of 14.

“Becoming one of the two first South Asian Sergeants in Edison Police Department’s history is more than a promotion just for me, it’s a major step for the diverse community that I have taken an oath to protect,” Mahmood said.

Sergeant Neel Patel, left, holding the daughter of Sergeant Ayaz Mahmood prior to the ceremony March 17, 2023, on the day Edison Mayor Sam Joshi announced the two South Asians were being promoted to Sergeant in the Edison Police Department, a first in the history of EPD. Photo: courtesy Sgt. Ayaz Mahmood

“I believe Sgt. Patel’s promotion along with mine is going to serve as a realization for every eligible minority that dreams of being a Police Officer, especially of those of South Asian descent, can now say “this can be me” as well”,” he added.

Sergeants Patel and Mahmood became very good friends at Edison Police Department.

“We have the utmost respect for one another and are grateful for the support by Mayor Sam Joshi, Chief Bryan, the Edison Police Department and the community,” Mahmood said.

Both officers have been almost in lockstep since they joined   Edison PD ten years ago.

Reaching a ‘supervisor’ level as Sergeant means opening the way to proceeding to higher ‘command’ positions like Lieutenant etc.

Both Patel and Mahmood were born in the New York tri-state area, and then were away abroad for a few years before returning to the U.S.

Both did not follow the traditional trajectory expected of most South Asian origin kids. Both wanted to serve the community through this avenue.

Mahmood has been part of the Criminal Investigation Bureau,  and will continue as a Sergeant in that department.

Patel said he is in charge of Community Oriented Policing, COP, which has meant encouraging different communities to enroll and make the police force more diverse, “Like Mayor Joshi said about encouraging youth,” and as Police Chief Thomas Bryan wants him to work on that diversification.



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