A trailblazing NYPD officer and first-generation Yemeni-American has taken over as Commanding Officer of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI).
Center for Homeland Defense and Security alum Jamiel Altaheri (Executive Leaders Program cohort 2102) started his new position in April 2023 and said he is dedicated to the goals of the office, which aim to “promote awareness, education, and outreach to improve the quality of life in the workplace and beyond by fostering cultural understanding of employees and the community.”
Altaheri, who is the highest-ranking Yemeni-American police officer in the U.S. and one of the highest-ranking Muslim-Americans in the NYPD, has worked for the NYPD for nearly two decades after joining the force in 2004. He said the overarching goal of the OEI is both “internal and external,” promoting both inclusiveness in the department and fair and impartial policing for the community.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new job,” he said. “It’s a process.”
There may be no more impressive example of the benefits of inclusiveness than Altaheri’s decorated career.
Altaheri was born in Yemen and dreamed of being a police officer even before emigrating to the U.S., inspired by several family members who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as police officers.
After emigrating with his family to New York at the age of 4, Altaheri said he was also inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement by TV shows such as “21 Jump Street,” as well as a reputation as a peacemaker when he was young.
When he entered elementary school, Altaheri was told by a teacher he would be a good mediator and he joined a mediation program at his school. Altaheri carried a whistle and said he learned how to defuse disagreements that arose between schoolmates, adding that he “had fun talking to both sides” in an effort to resolve issues.
“I always saw myself as an American and I believe there is no conflict between that and being a Yemeni-American and a Muslim.”– Jamiel Altaheri
It didn’t take Altaheri long to make his mark after joining the NYPD, working on patrol for just a few years while also working with the Bronx District Attorney’s office and a VICE Special Investigations Team in a high-profile money laundering case involving the extensive use of court-ordered wire taps, physical surveillance, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), as well as a five-year undercover assignment with the VICE Enforcement Squad and the Narcotics Division of the Organized Crime Control Bureau.
That experience earned him a Detective shield by the age of 24, and that was just the start of a career full of promotions. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2010, the first Yemeni-American to earn that rank, and served as a patrol supervisor in the Housing Bureau and as an investigator in the Internal Affairs Bureau. Altaheri was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant, another first for a Yemeni-American, and served as the 3rd platoon commander at Transit District in Brooklyn and as the Special Projects Supervisor at the Homeless Outreach Unit, as well as undergoing an administrative assignment at the Employee Management Division.
Altaheri was promoted to Captain in 2015, and served as the Executive Officer of the 20th Precinct in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Executive Officer of the 23rd Precinct, known as “El Barrio” in Spanish Harlem in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Executive Officer of the 32nd Precinct, and most recently as Commanding Officer of the 115th Precinct.
Altaheri, who is an NYPD-certified Arabic linguist and reads, writes, and speaks Arabic fluently, said he was “lucky with the opportunities I was presented,” and also credited his language skills with “creating opportunities.”
While he said he always wanted to be a police officer, Altaheri added that he was even more inspired to join the force after 9/11.
“I always saw myself as an American and I believe there is no conflict between that and being a Yemeni-American and a Muslim,” he said. “I wanted to protect my country and to lead a campaign to help face the challenges that Muslims face. My presence in the NYPD was needed at the time. Many felt they were being targeted for their race and religion. I’m not a big one to claim discrimination, but there were tough times and I had to approach [superiors] about it. I’m grateful to the NYPD.”
At the same time as his law enforcement career was taking off, Altaheri was pursuing what would be a wide-ranging academic career, which included a number of degrees and certificates, including his CHDS ELP certificate.
He earned a Master of Arts Degree in Human Resource Management from Seton Hall University; a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Finance, and a Certificate of Achievement in Accounting from Brooklyn College; a Graduate Certificate in Policing in a Multicultural City from John Jay College of Criminal Justice; a Certificate of Achievement in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia; and graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA, in 2016, the first Muslim-American Police Executive to do so. He is currently a doctoral student at Liberty University.
Altaheri described the CHDS ELP as the “best program ever,” noting the educational program offered the opportunity to interact with people from a wide range of various agencies and organizations, as well as private companies.
“We were sharing ideas and there were really good debates,” he said. “I encourage others to apply.”
Altaheri is also co-founder of the NYPD Muslim Officers Society, founder of the Yemeni-American Law Enforcement Officers Association, and founder of the Yemen United Soccer Club, which supports free sports tournaments, youth empowerment, and leadership activities aimed at Yemeni-American youth and other immigrant communities
Committed to bridging the communication gap between law enforcement and the Muslim community, Altaheri has conducted numerous lectures and discussions about the importance of diversity, community policing, collaboration, and religious sensitivity in law enforcement to members of the U.S. military, law enforcement personnel, and community organizations.
When he retires from the NYPD, Altaheri said he has considered returning to his native Yemen to help that country and serve as a bridge between the United States and the Middle East.
He lives in the Bronx with his wife and four children.