Palisades Park installed its first Korean police sergeant and borough clerk on Tuesday, reflecting the continued growth and influence of the Korean population in the town.
The Borough Council, during its monthly meeting, promoted and swore in Police Officer Shawn Lee as sergeant, and named Gina S. Kim the new borough clerk in front of about 100 people, many who stood near the doorway of council chambers and carried cameras and smart phones to capture the moment.
There are more than 10,000 residents of Korean ancestry who call Palisades Park home, and they represent more than half of the borough’s population.
“I’m so very happy to see all these young Korean-Americans thriving and going up through their steps,’’ said former councilman Jason Kim, who was the first Korean-American on the council. “They are there for their merits, I’m very proud, because they are there for their efforts and the council has recognized that.”
The borough has hired more employees who speak Korean so they can better communicate with the public. Currently, there are about 11 employees of Korean ancestry, said Borough Administrator David Lorenzo.
When Police Chief Ben Ramos and Police Director Michael Vietri sent out a press release earlier this month announcing the promotion of Lee to sergeant, they said that the borough should hire more Korean-American police officers.
Lee, 39, became a police officer in 2004, after having worked as a special police officer and dispatcher. While in college, Ramos and Vietri said, Lee also was an intern at the police department.