A NYC police officer is finding fame during the Occupy Wall Street protests at Zuccotti Park. Detective Rick Lee has become a local celebrity as blogs dub him the “hipster cop.” The well-dressed plainclothes police officer keeps turning up in OWS photos at the Zuccotti Park protest camp.
Online searchers paired photos of the hipster cop at Zuccotti park to other snapshots to identify Rick Lee, a community affairs detective in the First Precinct. The New York Times reports Detective Lee admitted it to a reporter at the park, sighing, “That’s what they call me.”
The attractive detective looks younger than his 45 years with a slim build, shaggy hair, trendy eyeglasses and a ready smile. Typically Detective Lee dons skinny ties and cardigan sweaters with skinny trousers. The plainclothes cop stands out from the disheveled crowd at Zuccotti Park.
He is also different from other police officers in uniform who were seen jostling the crowd and spraying pepper spray. Detective Lee is less threatening and helps to alleviate some of the tension between OWS protesters and police officials.
Detective Lee said he prefers organic food over predictable police fare such as doughnuts and coffee. He also sated, “I’m into fashion, always have been.” He suits are hand-tailored by a friend who has a job with Ralph Lauren.
Detective Lee, a Staten Island resident, is amused about becoming a recognizable figure in the Occupy Wall Street protest situation. “I think it’s funny. I’m not a blog guy, so I haven’t really seen a lot of the hipster mentions.”
Besides looking good, Detective Rick Lee is one of the department’s main liaisons with OWS protesters. On Monday, Detective Rick Lee spoke to demonstrators about how to avoid arrest and getting along with other police officers.
The plainclothes police officer works overtime, seven days a week, to address departmental and community concerns. However, some OWS protesters are cautious about the hipster cop and still consider him an enemy as a police official.
Detective Lee counters his role is to keep dialogue open so the Police Department can “protect everybody’s rights. It’s nothing personal – we just want you to stay safe.” One angry OWS protester was disturbed other protesters spoke to Lee, “If he was a white-shirt, you wouldn’t be talking to him.”
On the other hand, protester, Mike Leonard, 21 of New Jersey, opined, “He’s got a heart.” Detective Lee revealed 39 percent of his paycheck is taken out in taxes, indicating he had a lot in common with protesters. He joined the Police Department at age 25 after working as a carpenter with shoulder-length hair.
Four months away from eligibility for retirement, Detective Lee said, “Maybe I’ll grow my hair long again and join these guys.” The detective also admitted to Gothamist, “”I will reveal that I wear skinny jeans off-duty.” While Detective Lee sounds like a “regular guy” many question what he has in common with OWS protesters if he is eligible for retirement with a pension at age 45.