Profile of the Month By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
Who leaves Guyana for Canada, at age fourteen, stowaway to New York, and end up as a Captain, and Commanding Officer, in the New York Police Department? Ralph Clement tells his story with unabashed realism, and a seriousness that should warm the heart of the immigrant community.
The story inspires, motivates and typifies the splendor of the American Dream. Ralph landed in New York with nothing but dreams. The bus stopped at Times Square and Ralph had to learn the ways of the City. He attended school in Guyana, and did well, but now he had to start anew. He drew inspiration from his mother Pamela Clement and his dad Sheik Karrim. They lived in Eccles on the East Bank of Demerara in Guyana, and were hard working parents. Then there was Telbert Sylvester Clement, who married the sister of Ralph’s grandmother. Telbert, an Afro-Guyanese, from Pouderoyen, and a Sergeant in the Guyana Police Force, raised Ralph’s mother as his own daughter. He was more than a grandfather to Ralph. He gave the young man his last name.
Ralph enrolled at John Adams High School in Queens, New York, and found that he was good in Chemistry and English. In 1996, he left John Adams and entered the world of work. He was assigned as a contractor to Revlon and the boss was John Farley. He encouraged Ralph to become a police officer. As Ralph puts it, ‘You don’t see yourself sometimes, but someone else may see that you can do better. That thought has stuck with me and I believe the people have the capacity to do well, if they are given real encouragement.’
Ralph thought about Farley’s suggestion, and with the support of his wife, he studied for the police exams and passed it. The sacrifice had paid off and now it was time to wear the uniform of the New York Police Department. Ralph joined the NYPD in July 2005 and was posted to the Sixth Precinct. He was like a sponge, learning all aspects of the job. He was to spend five years in the Precinct, making a positive difference in the life of the community. Ralph was not content sit on his achievements. He wanted to move up in the ranks. He began to study for the Sergeant’s exam and in 2009 he took the exam. He was successful and was promoted a year later. In 2011, he took the Lieutenant’s exam and was again successful. His next goal was to study to become a Captain. It was one of the hardest tests to pass but Ralph was equal to the task. He burned the midnight oil and when the results came out, he passed with flying colors. He was now a Captain and was assigned for training at the Police Academy, while he waited to be given his own command.
Ralph went to the 13th Precinct in the Flatiron District and then to Midtown South in Times Square. It is most ironic that Ralph would become a Captain in Times Square, the place where he was dropped off as an undocumented, fourteen-year-old, and where he started his career as a cop. Ralph spent some time as the Commanding Officer of the Homeless Outreach Unit that he helped to restructure. His experience in the homeless was useful and became the capstone essay for his Master’s Degree from John Jay College. Ralph was posted to Midtown Precinct North where he gained valuable experience. This prepared him for a position that was suited to his talent and aptitude. He was assigned as Commanding Officer of the 9th Precinct in East Village. He curently is in charge of 170 members of the NYPD. This is a tremendous achievement and the sky is the limit for this police officer.
Captain Clement is grateful to the many persons that helped him in the journey. Apart from his parents, and Telbert Sylvester Clement, Ralph would like to thank his wife for her wonderful support. John Farley was a great inspiration. Deputy Chief Brendan Timoney is a valued mentor. He had Ralph as his Executive Officer in Midtown Precinct South. Assistant Chief Stephen Hughes showed faith in Ralph’s abilities and gave him the opportunity to become Commanding Officer in the 9th Precinct.
We are proud of Captain Ralph Clement. He is affable, approachable, and willing to share his expertise with others. The officers and the community reciprocate positively toward him.
We know that Borough Chief is in the making. We wish Captain Ralph Clement and his family all the best in the future.