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“Hostility towards the police is not unusual. For some people, if you catch them breaking the law, you are stomping on their liberties. They see the police as people who are preventing them from doing what they want to do by issuing them a ticket, arresting them or whatever, and they are angry. On the other hand, if they are victims, you show up with too little too late. You didn’t help them when they needed you. They are traumatized and you weren’t there to stop it.” – Stefanie Hirschhorn 

From the time she was a rookie and hit the streets in the 25th Precinct in Harlem, Stefanie Hirschhorn racked up an impressive number of arrests. If they were breaking the law, she brought them in. She was shot at twice, kicked across the street by a man resisting arrest, and suffered a serious neck injury when a suspect she was chasing made a u-turn and plowed into her police car. Stefanie worked with Street Crimes, a special squad of cops whose mission it is to stop violent crime. Then she went on to a Rape Task Force where she learned about the painstaking research required to track down leads and identify suspects.

When Stefanie was three-years-old, her mother, one of the first female stock brokers in the country, quit her job and hit the road with her daughter. Stefanie spent her childhood bouncing around from a 1960’s commune, to Kathmandu, Tehran and Kabul. When Stefanie entered the sixth grade, it was her first time in school.

As a rookie right out of the Academy, she learned the ropes of police work. She appreciates the unique camaraderie that police officers share – a love, she says, that never ceases to amaze her. Routine calls – the baby that has stopped breathing, the woman who stabs her daughter-in-law while she is sleeping, and the furious wife who boils a pot of water and severely burns her husband because she thinks he’s been cheating on her – are how she spends her days. Then it’s on to Street Crimes, a rape task force, the Bronx Robbery Squad, and a supervisory position with the NYPD Mounted Unit. If Stefanie felt any hostility as a woman in an alpha-male world, she chose to ignore it.

About her decision to become a New York City cop, she says she’s been blessed to have worked with so many fantastic people. She says, “I’ll tell you right now, if I died today, I would die rich, surrounded by the greatest people on this earth. We all have to ask ourselves, as a human being, what is our legacy? Your legacy is your reputation. It’s your work. It’s everything you did and how you lived. My life will have meaning if all the fabulous things I learned from those great cops I worked with I passed on to the rookies I was training. And even with all the jobs I’ve had, I never forgot my roots – and that’s patrol. They are everything to a police department and it’s the job that’s the hardest to master. I tell my rookies, ‘You are going to learn to be the greatest actor on earth, and anyone who wins an Academy Award has nothing on you.’”