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Nassau's top female cop to lead Hofstra security force

Karen O'Callaghan (June 25, 2009)

Karen O'Callaghan (June 25, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The highest-ranking woman at the Nassau County Police Department is moving out - but also up to a No. 1 spot outside the force - as she leaves to head the public safety division of Hofstra University.

Karen O'Callaghan, who was installed as the first female chief of department for Nassau police seven months ago, will be the first woman to run the Hempstead university's security force.

"Chief O'Callaghan is an experienced, talented and highly skilled law enforcement officer who also happens to be a pioneer," Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra's president, said in a prepared statement Tuesday. "I am delighted to welcome someone of her caliber and character to Hofstra."

O'Callaghan, 55, begins her post at Hofstra in the summer. John C. O'Malley, assistant director of public safety, will serve as interim director until O'Callaghan arrives.

She will succeed public safety director Edward Bracht, who is retiring after 25 years of service.

O'Callaghan earned her stripes in several posts, rising through the ranks in her 27-year career.

Her jobs included serving as an officer and then a detective in the juvenile bureau. She was promoted to sergeant and became a patrol supervisor, barreling up the ladder to become lieutenant, captain and then, in 1998, deputy inspector.

She was promoted to full inspector in September 2001, deputy chief in 2004 and chief of department last June. In that capacity, she has reported directly to Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and has overseen the chiefs of the department's patrol, detective and support divisions.

O'Callaghan, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has been commanding officer of patrol precincts and assistant chief of the Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism Bureau. She is also a hostage negotiator and a state-certified police instructor.

She completed courses at a senior police management institute co-sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

"She was recruited by Hofstra, and I know she wrestled with the decision for some time," Mulvey said. "Certainly I would have liked her to stay, but I understand that this is a great opportunity for her. I wish her well. She'll be an asset to Hofstra."

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