It was her father who inspired her to major in criminal justice and become a police officer, Lauren Rodriguez said. Wednesday night, the young woman was sworn in at Town Hall to serve as a Yorktown police officer, in the community she has lived for the last 11 years.
"I hope to be a positive influence in my adoptive town," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, a 2003 Lakeland High School graduate, was a candidate for the position, but board members or fill a position in the highway department. But when another police officer put in her resignation, board members decided to fill the position.
"While the board reluctantly prepared to live with one vacancy for a bit longer until we resolved the tax issue," Supervisor Susan Siegel said Tuesday night, "We felt two would create serious problems for the police department, so we went back to these three candidates and were very pleased that [Rodriguez] was available and decided that, subject to our vote, we hire her."
The vote would allow Rodriguez to start a 20-week training at the Police Academy, starting on Monday. Had she not been hired, the town would have had to wait until January to fill the position. The intense training would include learning the criminal law, first AID, rescues, firearms training, report writing and more.
"I am really interested in one day having a K9 unit," said Rodriguez, who is excited to serve her community.
She was originally born in the Bronx and moved to Yorktown at the age of 13. She is the step daughter of Town Justice Sal Lagonia, who is a retired New Castle Police Officer for 20 years, and daughter of Loretta Lagonia. Both of them said they're proud of their daughter's accomplishments.
Rodriguez graduated high school and college a year earlier. She finished her classes at Mercy College in 2006 where she studied criminal justice and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She was a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national honor society for students of criminal justice.
"She is a very balanced person and she believed how the justice system works," her mother Loretta Lagonia said. "She cares about people."
Lagonia called her daughter resilient who would step in to help a person, if someone was bullied in school for example.
The one advice her step father said he could give her is to remember what her responsibility is -- to do right and serve her community.
"I'm most proud of the fact that she is doing it on one of the best police departments," Sal Lagonia said. "Looking at this department, the way it's run, the Chief, they're some of the most professional officers. This is her community."