As the highest-ranking Latino officer in the Nassau County Police Department, Damian Ramos, a deputy inspector, sees his role as providing guidance: within the brick walls of Elmont's Fifth Precinct, and also out among a rapidly growing Hispanic population.
"I love serving the community and being able to be in a leadership role where I can help train guys and be a little bit more interactive with community leaders," said Ramos, 40, who is both Puerto Rican and Dominican and entering his 19th year as a police officer, first in the NYPD.
Ramos was among the 250 officers in supervisory roles to receive promotions Monday night at the Nassau County Police Department Center for Training and Intelligence in Garden City, and at least the second to attain something more than just a promotion.
Harun Begis, 54, was promoted to the rank of inspector, making him the highest-ranking officer of Turkish descent, according to the department. Begis, a police officer for more than 30 years, is based at the Sixth Precinct, which covers communities such as Roslyn Heights, Great Neck, Manhasset and Flower Hill.
County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said many of the officers received their promotion about a year ago but a ceremony had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramos' Fifth Precinct covers Valley Stream, Elmont, Franklin Square, Lakeview, Valley Stream, West Hempstead and other communities. The deputy inspector said he wants to increase the community support for cops and decrease suspicion, especially among young people.
"We’ll walk in a park when kids are playing and have that opportunity to joke around with them, laugh with them, talk with them," Ramos said. "I think that’s a big portion of it. You’re breaking down that barrier of just dealing with people on solely not just an emergency scale."
Long Island saw its Latino population grow 35% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Elmont's overall minority population increased in that period by nearly 70%, according to the bureau.
In 2019, a Newsday analysis of state Department of Education data showed that Stewart Manor School, in the Elmont Union Free Elementary School District, was the most racially diverse school on Long Island.
The officers promoted "did well," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
"You excelled, you did well and here you are today being promoted," she said.