Punjab-born Pratima Bhullar Maldonado Makes History as NYPD’s First Female South Asian Captain

by Antariksh Singh

In a groundbreaking achievement, Captain Pratima Bhullar Maldonado, a police officer hailing from Punjab, has shattered barriers and etched her name in the annals of the New York Police Department (NYPD) as its highest-ranking South Asian woman. With her recent promotion to the esteemed rank of Captain, Maldonado now spearheads the 102nd Police Precinct in South Richmond Hill, Queens.

The auspicious elevation to Captain transpired last month, marking a pivotal moment for Maldonado and her illustrious career. A mother of four, Maldonado was born in Punjab and spent her formative years there before embarking on a new chapter of her life in the vibrant borough of Queens, New York.

Returning to the precinct that encapsulates her childhood memories, Maldonado expressed a deep sense of familiarity and belonging. “It feels like coming home. I spent more than 25 years of my life in this precinct when I was growing up,” she shared, basking in the nostalgia of her roots.

South Richmond Hill, the locale she proudly serves, stands as a bastion of the vibrant Sikh community, boasting one of the largest populations in the United States. Paying a visit to the gurdwara, Maldonado reveled in the profound connection between her past and present. “Going to the same Gurdwara that I did as a child, and now as a captain, I love it,” she remarked, cherishing the unique bond.

Maldonado envisions her new role as a catalyst for strengthened community policing. With her firsthand experience of encountering language barriers and individuals with limited English proficiency, she recognizes the significance of bridging these gaps. “There are language barriers, people who can’t speak the language, English is a second language. I’ve seen that firsthand growing up here,” she articulated, emphasizing her commitment to fostering effective communication and understanding within the diverse communities she serves.

Undeniably, the journey leading to Maldonado’s historic achievement was no easy feat. Reflecting on the challenges she has encountered, Maldonado shared, “Getting out there and working, and protecting people that are cursing you out sometimes and not appreciating what you’re doing, but you still got to do what you got to do.” Her resilience and unwavering dedication have propelled her to new heights, serving as an inspiration to others.

Shouldering the weight of her responsibility, Maldonado aspires to be an exemplar of positive change, not only for her community but also for aspiring female law enforcement officers and the younger generation. “It’s a big responsibility. I want to be a better and positive example, not only for my community, for other females, kids that see us every day. Because that would change their perspective of how they view law enforcement,” she passionately expressed.

Amidst the proud ranks of the NYPD, Maldonado represents a significant milestone for the Asian community, which comprises 10.5 percent of the department’s 33,787 members. “I feel extremely proud. It’s good to show other up and coming Asian, South Asian females that if you work hard enough you too can climb the ladder of success,” Maldonado proclaimed, reinforcing the notion that perseverance paves the way for achievement.

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in New York City, Maldonado paid tribute to her late father, a taxi driver who supported their family through his unwavering work ethic. Reflecting on his absence, she shared, “My dad actually drove a taxi for many years. He supported us. He was a hard worker. He passed away in 2006, before I became a cop. He would have been so proud right now.”

Captain Pratima Bhullar Maldonado’s extraordinary journey serves as an inspiration, breaking barriers, and empowering future generations with a testament to the indomitable spirit and resilience that propels them towards their dreams. Her historic achievement stands as a beacon of progress, symbolizing the ongoing transformation within law enforcement and the pursuit of a more inclusive society.

Antariksh Singh

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