By Maria Rocha-Buschel
All members of the NYPD are required to swear an oath to the New York State Constitution when they begin their service, but Detective James Coll said that it wasn’t until after he swore his oath that he actually took the time to read it. Since he felt like he wasn’t the only one who was unfamiliar with the document, he started a non-partisan and non-profit organization called ChangeNYS that aims to educate New Yorkers about the contents of the state’s constitution.
Coll, who is one of the detectives that was honored with the Cop of the Year award in 2009 for rescuing passengers from the US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River, has been a member of the NYPD since 1997 and since 2002 has been a member of the Emergency Squad Unit 1, which is directly adjacent to the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street.
Coll has been an adjunct professor of American history at Nassau Community College since 2001 but he said that he started thinking about the state’s constitution when he decided to go to graduate school shortly after joining the NYPD. He started ChangeNYS about two years ago as an educational program and to offer a forum for discussion to anyone who wanted to learn about the government.