Geraldine Hart, the FBI’s former Long Island office leader, officially became the Suffolk County Police Department’s first female commissioner after county legislators unanimously confirmed her historic appointment as top cop on Tuesday.
After lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised her, Hart was confirmed by a vote of 18-0. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone chose her after his administration’s search of more than 100 candidates that applied for the position.
“It is essential that we represent the population that we police,” Hart told the panel when asked how she will how more diverse officers. “It is a process that is slowly evolving…but it is a program that I would like to look into as far as mentoring to see what we can do once those officers are in the department, how we can get them hooked up with somebody who can show them the lay of the land.”
With nearly 2,500 sworn members, the department is the 11th largest in the nation.
Hart replaces Timothy Sini, the former police commissioner who was elected Suffolk County District Attorney last fall.
She takes over shortly after the department was rocked by scandal. Former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke is serving federal prison time after pleading guilty to beating a handcuffed inmate and trying to cover it up.
Her appointment also comes as the department is in the midst of a crackdown on the increasingly violent MS-13 street gang that has drawn national headlines for its crimes on LI and while Suffolk detectives are investigating the largest unsolved murder case in the department’s history after the discovery of 10 sets of human remains on Ocean Parkway nearly seven years ago.