As a kid, Marina Andrade would try on her father’s NYPD cap and pretend to ride on an NYPD motorcycle.
On Friday, Andrade will graduate from the academy, wearing the shield her dad wore and her grandfather before him.
“This is really cool for three generations to be able to share this tomorrow,” said Andrade, 22, of Smithtown. “I’m really proud. I’m not just putting a number on my chest that was issued to me, this is third-generation. I can’t stop smiling.”
Andrade’s grandfather, James Andrade Sr., flew up from Florida to watch her get sworn in.
Andrade Sr. started as an officer in 1957. He retired as a sergeant in 1976. And he was more excited for Marina to become an officer than he was when his son did.
“To me she’s just still a little girl,” he said. “I’m very proud of her.”
Standing outside of the police academy in Queens Thursday, James Sr. saw her in uniform for the first time. And while she wore a shiny new shield on her chest, her grandfather’s original one, slightly duller, was fastened proudly to her hat.
“Look at her, she’s got my shield,” he said, going in for a hug. The memento had been a surprise. “Who is this girl pretending to be a cop?”
Her dad, James Andrade, 54, started his career as a corrections officer. But in 1992 he decided he wanted to follow in his own father’s footsteps and entered the academy. He retired in 2005 as a detective second grade.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I can’t be more proud.”
But he didn’t push his daughter to join the family business. Instead, she said he wanted her to become a lawyer.
“It’s always been really cool to have two father figures that are really strong,” she said. “It kind of just happened where I wanted to [follow] suit in their footsteps.”
The department has changed over the years, James Sr. said, and is “1,000% different” than when he served.
For her part, Marina said she feels uniquely qualified, having studied forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“I think that everybody has a story and people often judge one another before they really get to know the true story,” she said. “Going in with the mindset of knowing why people do things, rather than that hostile police mentality, it’s a different world nowadays than my father’s era.”
Andrade requested to start her career in the 75th Precinct, which covers East New York and Cypress Hills, a precinct her father served as well. The department granted that choice.
But graduating didn’t come easy — she even failed the running test twice, but trained even harder and passed. It’s what makes Friday’s graduation extra special, she said, as her entire family said they would try not to cry. No one had high hopes.
“They’re going to bawl,” she said. “And I’m wearing waterproof mascara tomorrow because I’m probably going to do the same thing.”