(NEW YORK) — Dr. Lynn O’Connor is now the first Black female police surgeon for the New York Police Department (NYPD) after being sworn in on Monday.
“This is incredibly [meaningful] to me,” she told “GMA3” in an exclusive interview prior to her swearing in ceremony. “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.”
O’Connor also serves as the chief of colon and rectal surgery at Mercy Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital. In her new role at the NYPD, she will determine officers’ fitness for duty, treat injured members and provide them with consultations.
Speaking of her experience as a doctor working with police officers, O’Connor said officers spend so much time taking care of others that they don’t have as much time to care for themselves.
“With my background in this position, I am uniquely positioned to develop colorectal cancer awareness programs, screening programs and various other initiatives that are going to be key in keeping our officers safe, and keeping them healthy and keeping them fit for service,” she said.
NYPD Chief of Personnel John Benoit said in a statement that “We’re very excited about this historical appointment of the first Black female police surgeon in the department’s 178-year history.”
“Dr. O’Connor 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,” he continued.
O’Connor noted that there are not a lot of Black physicians in the country and underscored the need for them.
“Studies have shown when a patient is treated with a physician that is of the same race or ethnicity, they have markedly improved outcomes,” O’Connor said. “They’re diagnosed quicker, they’re seen quicker, their overall health is improved. And that leads to saving lives, that leads to longevity, which is what I want to do when we get into the NYPD.”
To all the young girls watching her, O’Connor said she wants them to know they’re enough and they and their goals matter.
“You can be what you can’t see,” she said. “Perseverance pays off.”
ABC News’ Jessica Yankelunas and Jessica Hornig contributed to this report.
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