Officer Javarro Long, of the New York City Police Department, was born and raised in the South Bronx. He is currently assigned to the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, with 17 years of proud service. Javarro volunteers as a mentor with the First Responders Children’s Foundation Chorus, a collaboration of first responders and children who create and perform music together.
Q: Javarro, are you the first police officer in your family, or is it a tradition?
I guess you could say it’s a new tradition. On my father’s side of the family, I’m the second grandson to sign up. I encouraged my cousin to take the test with me one day. He actually got hired six months ahead of me so that sucked (laughs). I also have a few cousins on my grandfather’s side who were cops a few years before I joined.
Q: What inspired you to join up?
My inspiration to get involved in law enforcement was really about helping people and being a positive influence. I love music and the stage, and when the microphone is in my hand the crowd goes crazy. I look at being a police officer that same way–front and center stage without missing a beat, to help others. Even at a young age I was already preparing for what career to choose, outside of music.
Q: What’s the most satisfying part of the job for you?
It’s carrying the responsibility to change lives and owning the room. It’s the joy of when a kid high-fives me when I’m out on the beat, or I stick out my tongue at them when their parents aren’t looking. It’s the joy of knowing I beat the odds of the south Bronx, I made it! Plus, my family–especially my kids–they love that I’m a police officer. It’s always talked about at every gathering. As for me, I’m humble about it as long as I get to dress fly. I love just being me, because it sets a tone with my colleagues.
Q: What are some memories of your service that have stayed with you?
Originally I was a dispatcher–you know the one who answers 911 calls? So back in 2004, I got a call where a family was hiding in the closet because someone was shooting through the door. As calmly as I could, I guided them to safety until help arrived. Another one would be my first attempted murder case under the Manhattan Bridge, downtown by South Street. We caught the suspect at a traffic light, covered in blood.
Q: What are the most important qualities you bring to your police work?
I’m very sympathetic. I think and analyze. Most importantly, I’m very patient, which is not taught, it’s learned. Remember, I’m from the Bronx. I’ve taken the qualities that helped save me in my childhood and used them in my adulthood, at my job. I understand consequences and actions, so when I approach a situation in the community, I give back those life skills. Not everyone is equipped with the ability to see the bigger picture.
Q: Music was an important thing for you, growing up?
Yeah, music was a safe zone–it was like sports… basketball, tennis, football, but music was my love. I saw music as a way to express my pain and my environment. I always loved telling a story. I love to express myself with music and sometimes with poetry I do that too. I’ve been rapping since age 12. I still do small engagements and write. Just over the summer I taught myself how to DJ, so now I do that at a lot of NYPD events.
Q: What inspired you to volunteer for the First Responders Foundation Chorus?
So many people have helped me along the way, on my own journey. I had a mentor of my own, Craig Harwood of the Unlocking Futures program–I’ve been associated with that program since 1995 and it’s still influencing my life. I do a lot of public speaking, and I always tell the story of how Craig never gave up on me. Originally, I didn’t want him to be my mentor, because I didn’t trust him–he’s a white guy from Tribeca, and gay. But that man shaped me, because at 15, I didn’t have the life education I have now. My dad died when I was 16 and was never really in my life. So I got lucky with Craig, and also with my high school math teacher Derek Phillips, with the Real Dads Network. Mentoring with the First Responder’s Chorus was a natural thing to do, a way to give back.