Risco Mention-Lewis ’93 is a problem solver. As Suffolk County deputy police commissioner, her work entails developing comprehensive programs to combat gang violence and recidivism through intelligence-led policing, community-oriented policing and helping to form Council of Thought and Action groups across the county.
Throughout her career, Mention-Lewis has had to think outside the box to solve problems in the community. Today, she continues to think differently and teaches others to do same. Mention-Lewis attributes this way of thinking to Hofstra Law, where she learned the skills needed to bring about change.
How did Hofstra Law prepare you for your legal career?
Law school taught me to prioritize my time. I learned the importance of speaking with your peers and studying with others. Law school definitely changes the way you think. Hofstra Law was a wonderful and nurturing environment and helped start my legal career.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra Law?
I began my legal career as a Nassau County assistant district attorney in 1993. It was at the DA’s office that I learned to think just, not fair — a skill that has been valuable throughout my career. During this time I also realized that I did not want to lock up young people and that I wanted to focus my career on helping young people in the community.
What was it like working as a community prosecutor in Nassau County?
I was able to work with youth 24 and under, and helped them find their passion. I realized that I had the ability to transform people’s lives. I was able to go into the schools and work as a problem solver. Through sports programs like soccer and boxing, I was able to keep youth positively engaged.
How would you describe the Council of Thought and Action?
The Council of Thought and Action (COTA) began as a part of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s Hempstead Initiative. COTA gets ex-offenders to think differently through community intervention. For most ex-offenders “hope is premeditated disappointment.” COTA helps build community by connecting men and women to existing resources and helping them create new ones.
What advice would you give to current Hofstra Law students?
In law school, think inside the box; then when you leave, think outside the box. Find a good group of people to study with and think through the problems. Most importantly, don’t forget to savor the moment. Law school is a special time in your life.