Yahir Morales ’24
ACE Scholar Yahir Morales ’24 to Join NYPD

Degree: B.S. in Criminal Justice
Programs: Accelerate Complete Engage (ACE), NYPD Cadet Corps

Mentors: ACE Senior Academic Advisors Vivian Rivera and Ashley Smith, Adjunct Professor and NYPD Community Affairs Assistant Commissioner Alden Foster ’12
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Career Aspiration: NYPD Officer

What was life like before John Jay?
I was born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in a Mexican American household. My parents immigrated here from Mexico, but my mom was a single mother who raised me and my brother, Axell (Morales ’22, currently an NYPD police officer). When mom had a day off, she’d take us to Maria Hernandez Park to play, we’d walk around the neighborhood, look in the stores, and get some ice cream together. It was a wonderfully diverse neighborhood to grow up in and my mother did an amazing job raising us. All my accomplishments are because of her.   

Why John Jay?
Two things stood out to me about John Jay. I really liked that the College was known for its diverse student body, and after deciding that I wanted to become a police officer, I was impressed that a lot of the faculty members were leaders in law enforcement. In the end, there was no other college for me.

What life experiences ignited your passion for law enforcement? 
In 2020, a close friend was injured in the line of duty during the protests after George Floyd’s death. She was mobilized to keep the peace, but at one point, people started throwing things at the police officers. She was hit in the head with a glass bottle. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured too badly. The event sparked an interest in me. I asked her what her perspective was on the situation. She said when people are upset about mistreatment or injustices that they believe law enforcement has committed, they don’t see the person behind the badge. They don’t see another human being just doing their job. At that moment, I knew I wanted to become a police officer. I wanted to be the bridge between communities and the police. Law enforcement needs the communities’ trust, and I want to be one of the officers rebuilding that trust.

How has the ACE program enhanced your experience at John Jay?
ACE tremendously transformed my journey. The program was the foundation of my experience. Without ACE, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. My ACE advisors gave me the best career advice, prepared me for my classes, and continually pointed out great opportunities I could take advantage of—like writing workshops or exciting internships. Ashley and Vivian always encouraged me and sent me emails making sure I was okay, asking questions like: How are you doing? How are your classes going? Do you need help with midterms? They were simply the best people you could have in your corner.

What was your experience like in the NYPD Cadet Corps? 
The first time I heard about the Cadet Corps was when a detective came into my class and gave a presentation about the program. He explained that it wasn’t just a paid internship, it was a true step toward a career in law enforcement. He broke down how it’s hands-on training for young college students aspiring to become police. Being in the Cadet Corps has instilled in me a sense of discipline and community service. When we’re at the precincts, we can be the first person a community member meets. When I was working the front desk at the 83rd Precinct in Bushwick, officers would call on me when they needed a Spanish speaker. I took pride in being the one who could translate—helping both the community member and the officer.

Last spring, I got a call telling me I was being transferred to the police commissioner’s office. When I got there, it was surreal. I was working under Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell ’99. It was great knowing that she was a John Jay alumna in the top spot. On my very first day I learned how fast-paced that office was. I had to hit the ground running because hundreds of communications and requests were coming into the office. Luckily, I caught on quickly and found that everyone around me wanted to help me with career advice and suggestions. I’ve been at the commissioner’s office for over a year, and I’m now working in the Edward Caban administration. It’s the best place I could be to learn about the NYPD.

What are your post-graduate plans?
On July 2, 2024, I’ll be entering the police academy. After graduating from the police academy, I hope to go back to the 83rd Precinct, where I first started out as a cadet. It would be like starting from home. Bushwick has given me everything, I feel like I owe something back to the community.