Dr. Lynn O’Connor has become the first Black female police surgeon for the New York Police Department (NYPD). In her new position, she will control officers’ fitness for duty, treat injured members, and provide them with consultations.
O’Connor also serves as the chief of colon and rectal surgery at Mercy Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital. “This is incredibly [meaningful] to me. If you would have told me at 10 years of age that I’d be sitting here speaking with you, and soon to be sworn in as the first Black female police surgeon for the NYPD, I wouldn’t believe it,” she expressed to GMA3 in an interview before she was sworn in.
O’Connor explained that police officers spend so much time taking care of others that they don’t have as much time to care for themselves. She revealed that with this opportunity, she is well-positioned to design colorectal cancer awareness programs and screening programs, among other initiatives that will keep the officers safe and fit for service.
John Benoit, the NYPD Chief of Personnel, expressed his excitement about the historical appointment of the first black female police surgeon in the department’s 178 years of service.
He said of the appointee in a statement, “Dr. OConnor is an inspiration to all employees, and her expertise will prove to be valuable to our members, especially those who have been impacted by colorectal cancer.”
In an interview with CBS News, O’Connor said, “Being the first African American female is, it’s a tremendous honor, and, you know, heavy is the head that wears the crown. I hope that I’m not the last. I’m going to make sure that I’m not the last.”
The outlet noted that she joined a team of 35 NYPD surgeons with only seven women on Monday, which marked her first day on the job. O’Connor’s only child, Danielle Harris, also shared in her mother’s excitement. “When I heard the news, I was excited, but also, just, it makes sense. You’re a rock star,” she said.
“It’s a representation that we definitely need, especially with there being so many disparities within the health industry and also just within care as well too,” she added.
According to abc7, O’Connor gained her master’s in public health from Yale and her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. She completed her bachelor’s studies at Rutgers University.