By Tangerine Clarke
Rhonda O’Reilly-Bovell, who after migrating to the U.S. just 28 years ago at age 16, is the commanding officer of the 7th Precinct on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and president of the Guyanese American Law Enforcement Association (GALEA)
O’Reilly will once again make history, when she is inducted into the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame during a ceremony on May 4.
These stirring achievements, can no doubt be credited to the sound up-bringing and solid educational foundation that she received in her homeland. These accomplishments also prepared her for the arduous career she chose in law enforcement, after joining the New York Police Department six years after arriving in America.
The petite young woman, who served as a P.O. in the 100 Precinct, before quickly being promoted to sergeant in 2002, and then Lieutenant in 2010, where she served in the 63rd Precinct, is a hard working immigrant, who climbed the ladder four years ago, to become captain in the 30th Precinct.
O’Reilly’s work ethic propelled her to the rank of deputy inspector last year, a few months after, becoming one of the top-ranking officers in the NYPD.
She said she wants youths to know about the programs the NYPD offers to obtain an education. She is a fitting example of these grants received when she joined the Cadet Corps while attending Hunter College.
“I chose a career in law enforcement because I wanted to help others. My inspiration comes from my entire family who supports me 100 percent. My nephew is also a member of the NYPD,” said O’Reilly-Bovell.
Married to a police officer, the mother of two daughters who worked her way to the top,while staying committed to her parents (father deceased) and siblings, who she brought to the U.S. — holds an Undergraduate Degree in Sociology from Hunter College, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Marist College. She attended East Ruimveldt Secondary School before graduating from the prestigious St. Rose’s High School in Guyana.
She noted that after transferring from York College to Hunter College in 1994, she found the instruction and curriculum at Hunter to be just as challenging as York College.
“However, I believe that the atmosphere at Hunter College, challenged me to give 100 percent at my endeavors. My fellow classmates were very competitive and their work ethic pushed me to work harder than I ever did.”
“While at Hunter College, I developed friendships with individuals that have been a part of my network. Throughout the years, they served as a support system for me as I navigated the challenges I encountered in my professional life,” said O’Reilly, who is using these qualities to lead (GALEA).
The Guyanese American Law Enforcement Association (GALEA), which she heads, was formed after young Police Detective Randolph Holder Jr., the first Guyanese-born uniformed member of the service, died in the line of duty.
In 2015, officers of Guyanese descent with the support of the Guyana Police Force — organized and traveled home to bury Det. Holder. Upon their return, two members met with former Police Commissioner Bratton, who inspired the immigrants to form the Guyanese fraternity.
The mission of the organization is to enhance community relations between law enforcement and the many communities, home to people of Guyanese descent. Additionally, they provide assistance to law enforcement agencies in addressing the needs of people residing in various Guyanese communities.
Civilian Guyanese also proudly serve the non-for-profit throughout the U.S. alongside police officers, court officers, correction officers, and immigration officers.
To date, their charitable work has touched the lives of youth in Guyana, where they have volunteered at orphanages, and develop a network of Guyanese American law enforcement personnel and utilize their expertise to respond to the needs of the community when necessary.
GALEA, which will hold its first big fundraising boat cruise on June 29, is increasing the number of law enforcement officers of Guyanese descent within the NYPD and other agencies, by conducting recruitment drives in order to promote law enforcement that is more representative of the communities that it serves.
With its slogan “Honor, Integrity, Pride,” the group also provides aid to disadvantaged youths in the USA and Guyana.
Other executive members are: INS. Clinton McPherson (Intel. bureau.) 1st vice president; P.O. Khyume Khan (94 Pct.) Secretary, Det. Mark Holder (84 Det. Sqd.) treasurer; Sgt. Khamraj Singh (PBBS), Sergeant of Arms; P.O Mark Ellis (PADT), corresponding secretary, and Sgt.Wendel Seymour, (PBQN) financial secretary.