Alum. captains NYPD fifth precinct

| 11/18/09 11:00pm
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Brandon Del Pozo '96 is working to keep the community of Bronx, N.Y., safe as captain of the 50th precinct.
by Karsten Moran / The Dartmouth

"When you're doing intelligence work, you offer a benefit to the city, but it's a benefit that's realized only over time and only in indirect ways," Del Pozo said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "When you're a precinct commander, you're working directly with crime victims, community leaders, citizens. The buck stops with you."

Since his time in the Middle East, Del Pozo's work has centered on the day-to-day crimes of New York City. He served as the second-in-command for the Upper East Side district before moving to the 50th precinct in the Bronx.

Del Pozo said he learned about the real impact of his work when he and several officers intervened to stop a man who was in the process of stabbing his girlfriend and her three-year-old son.

"I felt someone hugging me and I turned around it was this little boy bleeding, and he had tears in his eyes, and he said, Mister, thank you for coming. You saved my life,'" Del Pozo said, his tone softening as he recalled the incident. "I realized that this is one of the few jobs I could ever have, besides maybe medicine, where you can really go home and say, I saved somebody's life today.'"

Matt Delaney '99 worked with Del Pozo in the intelligence division of the NYPD last year.

"He has all the best aspects that I guess you get out of a Dartmouth education, mixed with the different type of learning you get with being on the street as a police officer," Delaney said. "He's very well qualified, very capable, a great supervisor.

Del Pozo attributed his initial interest in public service to his father, a Cuban immigrant who served as a medic during the Vietnam War, and his maternal grandfather, a paratrooper in World War II.

"I was brought up in this environment where it is an honor to wear your uniform for your community and your country," he said. "I knew that whatever I wanted to do, I wanted it to be a mentally demanding job and have a physical component to it."

Del Pozo, who attended Stuyvesant High School in New York, said he chose Dartmouth in part for its location.

"I decided that I would probably spend the rest of my life working in a big city, but for four years I would have the opportunity to go to a genuine liberal arts college," he said.

Del Pozo said he can still remember the BlitzMail program with the "little column at the left of the page that had those little boxes." In the early 1990s, when Del Pozo was at the College, Dartmouth and West Point were the only institituions that required students to have a computer.

Del Pozo was a brother at Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity then Kappa Chi Kappa as well as a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, an opinion columnist for The Dartmouth and an active member of Student Assembly.

"Dartmouth sticks you in this small town full of people who are all part of a community with the common goal of a liberal arts education," he said. "It became clear to me that I wanted a job and a career that would keep me engaged with those issues issues of right and wrong and civic involvement and service and that's what led me to policing."

Del Pozo is currently pursuing a doctorate in philosophy at the City University of New York and received his Master's degrees from Harvard University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He attended Harvard on a full scholarship from the NYPD.

"I think it's very telling that when you get the highest degree in your field, whatever it is, it's always called a doctorate in philosophy," Del Pozo said. "It just goes to show that careful thought about the nature of things is the route of everything."

Dartmouth philosophy professor Walter Sinnot-Armstrong said he remembers Del Pozo as a motivated and energetic student. The two have stayed in contact, largely through Del Pozo's initiative.

"I find it fascinating that someone who is so deeply involved in the most practical side of the legal system is still able to maintain his interest and expertise in abstract philosophy," Sinnot-Armstrong said.

Philosophy professor Jim Moor also said he was impressed by how Del Pozo combined his interest in philosophy with his work in the NYPD.

"We often say in philosophy, You can make philosophy help you in almost anything you do,' and here is a clear case where you wouldn't have expected it," Moor said.

Mark Cicirelli '96, also a member of Tri-Kap, said Del Pozo was sure he wanted to go into public service as a student, off the common path to investment banks or law firms.

"He didn't seem to particularly care if it was a typical thing that someone from Dartmouth would do," Cicirelli said.

Del Pozo said he can remember when he met Cicirelli at a party at Tri-Kap during his first week at Dartmouth. At that time freshmen were not allowed at fraternity parties during freshman fall.

"But the fraternity guys didn't give a crap, we snuck in and met in the basement," Del Pozo said. "It's funny to think back to all those years ago when we were just hanging around in sweatshirts in the basement."