in today's new york post


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NYPD JEW: Joel Witriol (left), the NYPD's first Hasidic officer, hits the street yesterday with a pal after the cadet class was sworn in.

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December 27, 2006 — What a mensch!

Joel Witriol, the city's first Hasidic police officer, was sworn in yesterday along with 1,358 other cadets at the Police Academy graduation at Madison Square Garden.

“It was an incredible life experience,” Witriol said of becoming a cop. “I am looking forward to serving the community and the city.”

He is only the third Hasidic police officer in the nation.

Witriol, 25, of Williamsburg, will be allowed to keep his peyes – the long side locks worn by Hasidic men – looped up over his ears.

He's been granted exemptions from police hairstyle rules so he won't have to break his religious vows. He also will be allowed off on the Sabbath and Jewish holy days.

The former auxiliary cop has already joined the NYPD's Jewish fraternal organization, the Shomrim Society. His brother, Moses, is a police chaplain in Newark.

But Witriol hasn't figured out what path he wants to take in the department.

“I was thinking about a lot of things before I got in the academy, but there are so many opportunities. I'm not certain,” he said. “First I want to get my experience on the street.”

He's set to join the Transit Division in Brooklyn, but his first assignment will be the night shift on New Year's Eve.

Officials said this crop was most diverse class in NYPD history, with one-fifth of the new officers being foreign-born, hailing from 65 different countries.

The class is 46 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 17 percent black and 8 percent Asian, – the largest Asian contingent ever.