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NYPD Lt. Hak Kim aims to inspire future officers after heroic bridge rescue

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“If this publicity helps inspire the next generation of Korean-American officers, then that’s all that matters,” said Lieutenant Hak Kim, 44, who rescued a 25-year-old woman from the Brooklyn Bridge last month, in an interview at the 109th Precinct in Flushing on April 5.

Kim, who came to the U.S. in 1992 after completing six years of elementary school in South Korea, is currently in charge of Manhattan. He visited the 109th Precinct to communicate with Korean Americans. Kim has been at the forefront of public relations efforts after preventing a suicide attempt on the Brooklyn Bridge last month by talking to a long-haired woman with sunglasses for 35 minutes about his family.

Hak Kim, 44, poses for an interview at the 109th Precinct Police Station on April 5.

 

Kim was there to investigate whether front-line officers were handling the Brooklyn Bridge vendor ban, which has been in place since January under Mayor Eric Adams’ hard-line drive. He stopped his car and directed traffic as soon as he found the suicidal woman.

Kim and Officer Brendan Giardino started to talk the woman down, and another detective who was passing by the scene arrived to help control traffic. Despite being in heavy gear and having a hard time looking up due to the heavy rain, all he could think about was stopping the young suicide attempt, Kim recalled. The emergency team, which had been called by the mother of the young woman, and the local police department, which had received a report of a female jumper, came together to coordinate. The woman has been referred to psychological counseling, but there is no follow-up status shared with the public.

“All I could think about was stopping it as soon as I saw it,” said Kim. “That’s what anyone in the NYPD would have done. I’m very proud. If this publicity helps to produce the next generation of Korean-American officers, I’ll be pleased. In the past, there were 70 to 80 Korean-American officers, but I am not sure how many there are now. Anyone who is qualified can take the challenge if they invest about six months of time. The benefits from the city government are good, so I really recommend it.”

Regarding the NYPD’s recent emphasis on crime reduction, he said, “I am doing the same thing all the time, so I haven’t felt too much of a difference.” “Right now, there are situations where we are forming units and deploying additional officers to trains and fake markets. But, more units are being organized when there is an issue.”

Kim joined the police academy in July 2002 and began his career at the 115th Police Precinct in 2003. He later served in the 109th Precinct from 2005 to 2008, where he also worked in areas with large Korean-American populations. He also handled delicate cases, such as delivering death notices to the parents of Christina Lee, who was murdered by a man that followed her home in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

His father immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 to run a deli, and her mother arrived in the early 1990s. Kim grew up separated from his parents in Korea and later lived in Bayside and Woodside and recently moved to Long Island City.

BY MINHYE KANG, HOONSIK WOO    [kang.minhye@koreadailyny.com]

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