Sweet Spot With Mike Sugerman: Meet Rabbi Alvin Kass, NYPD's Longest-Serving Member

Mike Sugerman
September 06, 2019 - 5:00 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- New York City police officers wear a badge on the left side and a longevity bar on the right with Roman numerals indicating how long you've been in the department. 

So far there's only been one person in the history of the department to wear an L — denoting 50 years with the NYPD.

"I felt like a newcomer although I've been around this department for 53 years," said Rabbi Alvin Kass, the chief chaplain of the NYPD and the longest serving member of the department in uniform today. "I say a newcomer because every experience that I have is really very exciting for me."

In 1966 he got the call from the NYPD after the department's Jewish chaplain died. 

"I had never known a police officer, I had never been in a police station, I don't remember playing 'Cops and Robbers' when I was a youngster," Kass said.

He figured he didn't have a prayer, but he ended up getting the job and never looked back.

Since then, Kass has dealt with the ups and downs of police life for over half a century, including addressing the recent rash of police suicides in the department.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem," he told officers during a recent roll call at the NYPD's 19th Precinct.

In his more than five decades serving with New York's Finest, Kass has his share of stories to tell from ending a hostage taking to trading a gun for a pastrami sandwich to presiding over high holidays in the wake of 9/11.

He is one of seven chaplains in the department serving all faiths.

"I've probably been to more Catholic Masses than any other rabbi on the face of the Earth," Kass said. 

After 53 years on the job, the rabbi has no plans to leave, at least not until he gets word from a higher authority — and we're not talking about the commissioner.

"For as long as God gives me the strength and people will accept me," Kass said.