NYPD Police Officer Miguel Gomez Zorrilla ’21
NYPD’s Miguel Gomez Zorrilla ’21 Becomes the Police Officer His Community Needs

Job Title/Rank: Police Officer
Job Location: NYPD Office of the Chief of Personnel
Degree: B.S. in Criminal Justice
Mentors: Adjunct Professor and NYPD Chief of Personnel John Benoit and Adjunct Professor and Assistant Commissioner, NYPD Community Affairs Bureau Alden Foster ’12
Hometown: Bronx, NY

What inspired you to start a career in law enforcement?
I grew up in the Bronx, in a high crime area, the Castle Hill Houses projects. Living in an environment where I had no positive male role models was a challenge. At 12 years old, I was robbed at gunpoint, and that violent crime changed my perspective on life and future goals. It could’ve made me jaded or led me to a life of crime had I retaliated, but the police officers who responded to the incident were so kind that it changed my life. They spoke to me like a friend, with respect, and the interaction was so positive it created new goals for my career. I realized then I wanted to be a positive role model for others like those officers were for me. I wanted to be an officer in the NYPD.

What does a typical day look like for you?
My responsibilities include informing the public of the many work opportunities and resources available in the department. I visit high schools and colleges across the five boroughs and build relationships with young adults. I hope to give them a new perspective on what working in law enforcement looks like. Immersing myself in their communities, engaging with students, hearing about their lives, and getting their feedback has been affirming. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job.

Describe your best day on the job.
The best day thus far has been “Gun and Shield Day.” It’s the day we receive our gun and shield, marking the end of our time as recruits and the start of our role as a police officer. I was honored to be pinned by my mentor, adjunct professor, and assistant commissioner of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, Alden Foster ’12. Seeing Assistant Commissioner Foster’s impact on people—not just at John Jay but also in the field and communities—inspires and motivates me to continue doing this work. Throughout my time at John Jay, he was an incredible guide. He shared his personal experience on the job, gave me tips, and helped me navigate my way to success at John Jay and the NYPD.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Getting to put on my NYPD uniform, interacting with the public, and positively impacting someone’s life is the most rewarding part of this job. To know that I, an Afro-Latino from the Bronx, can help someone and do for them what an officer did for 12-year-old me means the world to me. I hope to one day be an example for kids who grew up in a neighborhood like mine. 

How has John Jay enhanced your work as a police officer?
Thanks to John Jay, I gained insight into what a career in law enforcement looks like. What I studied at John Jay was similar to what I learned at the police academy. My courses gave me an in-depth understanding of justice, and they helped me understand how critical it is to respect the community that you serve. Many of my professors at the College, like Assistant Commissioner Foster, are professionals in the field. So, not only are they teaching the course material, but they’re also sharing their personal experiences. 

What advice would you give to future law enforcement officers?
Remain patient and respectful with the people you come across. Every day, you will encounter people with different personalities and perceptions of police officers. Remember, you are likely meeting them at what is their worst or most vulnerable moment. Respectfully connect with them on a human level and do your best to make the interaction positive. You never know the impact it will have on their life.