Palisades Park Appoints Its First Korean American Police Sergeant


Palisades Park, a New Jersey borough where more than half of its residents are of Korean ancestry, welcomed its first Korean American police sergeant on Tuesday. The borough also appointed a Korean American borough clerk on the same day.

During the Borough Council’s monthly meeting, Officer Shawn Lee, 39, was promoted to police sergeant and Gina S. Kim, 26, was named the new borough clerk. The two Korean Americans were sworn into office in front of about 100 spectators at the Palisades Park Municipal Complex.

“There is urgent need to represent the Korean community by fostering a harmonious relationship between the police department and the community we serve,’’ Police Chief Ben Ramos and Police Director Michael Vietri said in a statement that recommended Lee for promotion, according to The council’s police committee approved Lee unanimously in early July.

Ramos and Vietri expressed that they would like to see more Korean American officers in the near future. Currently, only two out of 31 officers in the Palisades Police Department are of Korean descent. However, Lee’s new rank might become a catalyst for more Koreans to join the borough’s police force.

Meanwhile, Kim has filled in the vacancy left by Martin Gobbo, who served as clerk for 16 years until his death last month. She presided as clerk for the first time during Tuesday night’s council meeting, reported

With more than 10,000 Korean residents in Palisades Park, according to the 2010 Census, the slow but steady increase in Korean representation in municipal positions is an indication of this community’s growing influence in the city. Korean immigrants in particular were drawn to cities in eastern Bergen County, which included Fort Lee and Palisades Park, and settled there since the 1980s, according to the New York Times.

Most businesses in Palisades Park are now Korean-owned, and people flock to the city’s Broad Avenue for good Korean restaurants, according to the Washington Post. But the city’s older inhabitants feel like they are out of place, in which they are part of a 39% white population that looks elsewhere to do their shopping, the NY Times reported.

Jason Kim, the first Korean American elected to the council on his third try in 1995, is proud of Lee and Kim, who are among the eleven Korean employees of the Borough. “I’m so very happy to see all these young Korean-Americans thriving and going up through their steps,’’ former councilman Kim told “They are there for their merits, I’m very proud, because they are there for their efforts and the council has recognized that.”

Kim stepped down as councilman due to an illness last year, but there are others following his footsteps. Jong-chul Lee is currently serving on Palisades Park’s council while Christopher Chung and Jeffrey Woo are still members of the Board of Education.

See Also


David Ryu Sworn In As L.A.’s First Korean American City Councilman

Peter Suh Appointed as Fort Lee’s First Korean American City Councilman


Featured image via Cliffview Pilot

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