Mumbai born Sikh woman who came the US at 11 hopes she inspires others from similar background
Lt. Manmeet Colon, a Mumbai, India-born Sikh woman has become New Haven, Connecticut’s first ever assistant police chief of Indian descent and second ever female assistant chief of color.
Surrounded by dozens of friends, family members, city workers, and police colleagues, Colon, 37, raised her right hand and took the oath of office as the city’s third assistant police chief in charge of patrol on Friday, local media reported.
Colon’s older daughter Milan joined Colon’s brother Prabhjyot Singh in pinning Colon’s new assistant chief badge on her uniform, as Mayor Justin Elicker then administered the oath of office.
“You mom has done great things. She will do so many great things” to come, Elicker said through near-tears of his own as he looked over at Milan and her sister, Maya.
Colon, who immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 11 years old hoped that she inspires others from similar backgrounds to pursue careers in law enforcement.
“I come from a Sikh family. I speak Punjabi. I’m very proud of my heritage,” Colon was quoted as saying by The New Haven Independent.
“More important is the mission and the values of the department. To me, it’s all about being fair and impartial. My background, my morals, my family values and traditions a I feel like I bring a lot to the table. I’m glad there’s a space for me at the table,” she added.
Colon thanked her colleagues — and her family and friends — before closing out Friday’s ceremony. She urged her colleagues, especially on bad days, to “remind yourself of how privileged you are to be part of such a rewarding and strong profession.”
“With great power comes great responsibility,” she said, “and ever greater accountability.”
“A trailblazer, AC Colon is the 2nd woman of color & the 1st of Indian descent to serve in the position in the history of the NHPD – and I’m confident she will continue to serve our city w/honor & distinction in this new role,” Elicker tweeted.
“This is a great day for the City of New Haven, and also for the Indian community and women of colour in the city and state; another glass ceiling has been broken,” Police Commission Chair Evelise Ribeiro said.
Colon, a 15-year NHPD veteran, has risen through the ranks and served in a wide variety of roles during her tenure with the NHPD, Ribeiro and Police Chief Karl Jacobson noted with praise.
She has worked in patrol, as a detective in the special victims unit, as a sergeant supervising the robbery and burglary unit, as a lieutenant and district manager for Newhallville and Dixwell, and most recently as the head of the Internal Affairs division.
“She was tough, but she was also very kind,” Jacobson said as he recalled working in patrol in the Hill at the same as when Colon joined the force a decade and a half ago. He said they both learned about what community policing truly looks like under the mentorship of the Hill’s top cop at the time, now-retired Lt. Holly Wasilewski.
Jacobson also noted how he brought his own daughter, who is studying criminal justice at University of New Haven, to Friday’s ceremony to be inspired by and take note of such an accomplished female police officer as Colon.
“I brought her here because I want her to look up to you,” he said, pushing back tears as he looked over at Colon.