John Espina has always had a call to help others. It was that calling that led him to a 23-year career with the Nassau County Police Department, retiring as a detective sergeant in 2018. And it’s also what brought him to New York Tech, where, as director of security for both the Long Island and New York City campuses, he and his staff of 67 ensure the safety of the entire New York Tech community.
“I always had the desire to help others, and a career in law enforcement enabled me to help others and to protect our fellow citizens,” Espina says. “Although it’s not for everyone, I encourage anyone who has the desire or has thought about a career in law enforcement to follow their dreams and to consider it, even during these times of civil unrest. Law enforcement can always use good people.”
In 1994, Espina started his career like many other officers, on patrol, but soon spread his wings and was assigned to different units, including Recruitment, the Police Academy, as well as to the Police Commissioner’s Office and serving as a liaison to the general public. In his 11th year, Espina made detective and was assigned to the Third Squad, one of the busiest commands in Nassau County, which covers the Westbury area, the Village of Hempstead, Roosevelt Field Mall, and the Nassau County Correctional Facility in East Meadow. After eight years, Espina was assigned to Nassau’s Homicide Squad, where he eventually was promoted to detective sergeant.
Upon retiring from the force, Espina began to look at the possibilities of transitioning to higher education. He had grown up on Long Island and was familiar with New York Tech.
“I was a New York City school teacher before becoming a police officer,” Espina notes, “and it felt like a perfect fit, given my background.” He recalls working in the Bronx from 1985 to 1994 for the New York City Board of Education and going through its career ladder program to become a bilingual mathematics teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School.
“My family is also deeply engrossed in education. My father was a philosophy professor, and my mother was a curriculum specialist who was working on her Ph.D. in bilingual education,” Espina says when describing part of the reason New York Tech was the “perfect fit” for him. “Aside from my parents, I have my wife, my oldest daughter, siblings, and nieces who are either teachers and or administrators in higher education or primary and secondary education.”
Espina notes that the favorite part of his current job is getting to know the students and being able to assist anyone in need.
“When students are on campus, I would talk to them, get to know them, and let them know that there is always someone around to assist them if they ever needed help,” he says. “We can’t wait for the students to come back and to breathe life back onto campus.”