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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.