DEEPTI HAJELA, AP
NEW YORK — A New York City police detective who became an internet sensation as the “Hipster Cop” for his fashionable wardrobe during the Occupy Wall Street protests is letting go of something he’s been wearing for 25 years — his badge.
Detective Rick Lee’s last official day with the New York Police Department before retirement is Friday.
The 51-year-old worked as a community affairs officer in the 1st Precinct, which encompasses the Zuccotti Park site where protesters gathered in 2011. As photos from the demonstrations spread, people took notice of the fashionably dressed officer who was a regular presence. His sartorial choices — cardigans and skinny ties — along with his hair swept to the side and cool glasses garnered blog posts and news articles.
Lee said he’s always been a fashionable dresser, and that even when the job required him to wear a suit, he put his personal stamp on it, like wearing a tweed suit with a bowtie.
“I always try to stand out as an individual,” he said.
The Staten Island resident laughs when he thinks about the whole “Hipster Cop” thing, but says it helped make him more approachable to the public during the protests, which he said was the goal of being in community affairs.
“Here’s this guy who kinda dresses cool, it’s like `Oh wow,”‘ Lee said. “It knocks a lot of walls down in trying to negotiate and trying to get things done with people.”
And while a police precinct is not necessarily known as a place where fashion reigns supreme, “I got my chops broken a lot about it,” Lee said.
He didn’t mind. “As long as I can fit into my skinny jeans, I’ll be all right.”
Lee put in his retirement notice in January, and has been using up his vacation days ever since. His last day in the precinct was at the end of January, when he did, indeed, wear the skinny jeans he wouldn’t have otherwise been able to wear during official work hours.