By Patrick Markey
His mother and father arrived from Roscommon in 1920s and worked as a trucker and a waitress while he grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
But even after Patrick Kelleher worked his way up to second in command of the nation’s largest police force, he never forgot his Irish roots.
In the office where Kelleher works as the New York Police Department’s first deputy commissioner, mementos of Ireland and Irish America lie neatly arranged on a central table and on walls surrounding his desk — the Irish history books, the tri-color, the Garda boxing plaques are all a testimony to his family history.
As he approaches nearly three decades on the police force, 30 years that have seen him go from Brooklyn beat cop, though narcotics and internal affairs, and into the department’s top ranks, Kelleher believes the NYPD is witnessing a renewed interest in its Irish history.
"Whenever you go to Emerald Society meetings you see it," he said. "If you go to our communal breakfasts you see more young cops there than ever. There were some rough years with empty seats. Our numbers are smaller than when I came into the department, but the interest is much keener, much more dedicated.
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"You’re seeing a renaissance in our history and in the Catholic religion and real interest in family life."
That history has also been a model for others, the commissioner suggested.
"The Irish led the way in the department. The things that we did in the New York Police Department, we went from cops to chiefs to commissioners, it’s a model for all the immigrants in this country today," Kelleher said.