NYPD Princess Fights Crime And Shines In Jackson Heights Beauty Pageant – QNS.com

NYPD Princess Fights Crime And Shines In Jackson Heights Beauty Pageant

On Fridays, Karen Labrada usually runs home from work to replace her blue uniform and badge with a polka-dot bow tie and oversized clown shoes. The evening of Friday, Aug. 20, however, she donned a bathing suit and crown made of fresh flowers to compete in the Reina de las Flores (Queen of the Flowers) beauty pageant in Jackson Heights where she won the title of "Princess."
While the 21-year-old Colombian-American is an experienced clown, police cadet, college student and teacher, this was the first time Labrada had walked the runway, and just as in all the other roles she plays, she was a natural.
"It was always my dream," said Labrada of her experience in the pageant, held over three days at Club Casino and the Extravaganza nightclub in Jackson Heights. "Wanting it so much made me go up there and do it."
But Labrada has never been afraid of challenges. Instead, seeks them out.
She became a cadet in the New York City police force two years ago because, she said, "I like challenging myself. I know its not easy to get in here, and I know we have to go through an immense amount of training, both mental and physical."
When she was first assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit at the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights, Labrada was almost overwhelmed. "I see women being hurt, really hurt. I see children beaten. I see homicides," she said.
Her training in psychology at Queens College, where she is studying full-time for her Bachelors degree, prepared her for the heart-breaking stories she hears everyday. Now women ask for her by name. "I feel like Im making a difference," she said. "The people who come here look for me. If I wasnt here, who would they talk to?"
Most of the women Labrada interviews in the Domestic Violence Unit speak only Spanish, and many are undocumented. She helps them feel more comfortable and most importantly explains that they have rights despite their illegal immigration status. "Our job is to make them feel like they have value," said Labrada.
Labradas weekends are more fun. When her boyfriends mother, Luz Dary Figueroa, a famous Ringling Brothers circus clown and trapeze artist, said she would make a good clown, Labrada went out right away and bought oversized shoes and an outfit in the colors of the Colombian flagred, yellow and blue. Now she earns extra money for college telling jokes in Spanish and English and twisting balloons into animals at childrens parties.
She has another part-time job tutoring 15 children individually with math and reading and teaching English-as-a-Second-Language to Spanish-speaking adults.
Labrada has thought about pursuing a modeling career and even received an offer to act in a commercial after her success at the beauty pageant, but said that in the long term her career will be about helping people either as a police officer or a teacher.
E-mail this reporter at sarah@queencourier.com.

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