BY EDITORIAL STAFF
On Tuesday, the city’s Police Department held its annual National Night Out, an event during which city residents can meet the police officers who serve their communities as well as sample free food, take part in games and activities, and learn crime-prevention tips.
Each of the borough’s 16 precincts held National Night Out events throughout Queens. At the 111th Precinct’s event at Fairway Market in Douglaston, officers handed out free burgers, while children played games and jumped around in a bounce castle. The event culminated with a free screening of The Emoji Movie at MovieWorld.
Diane Lymberopoulos, 57, brought her family and future daughter-in-law, Ashuana Lall, 23, to the 111th’s event.
“The food is really good [and] the overall experience was really nice,” she said. “A lot of the police officers are here, the auxiliaries are here, the DJ was really good. It was a really nice experience to have all of the community come out.”
Lall said that the event provides an opportunity for residents to meet their local police officers.
“Especially with everything happening in the media, it’s really nice to see that the police officers are regular people,” she said. “It was really nice to really get to speak to them, get to know them, know that everyone is here to help everyone out.”
John Erdman, public affairs officer for the precinct, said that the event is meant to “bring the community and police together.”
“[It’s about] showing the community that police are here to help,” he said. “It’s more than just saying it; it’s actually doing it.”
The event also drew attention to MovieWorld, which was reported earlier this year to be possibly closing down. Residents have since launched a petition to save it. During National Night Out, the theater’s employees operated a booth where they collected petition signatures and handed out free popcorn.
“We’re doing this for the community,” said MovieWorld employee Joshua Carter, 15. “It’s a great way to bring people of different ethnicities together.”
In Astoria Park, the 114th Precinct held its own National Night Out event. Deputy Inspector Peter Fortune, the precinct’s commanding officer, touted the drop in crime in the community, especially at Queensbridge Houses, which is the nation’s largest public- housing development.
“Our proudest moment has to be the overall crime reduction in the 114th,” he said. “We’re number one in the borough in crime reduction and we’ve had a really good year overall. In fact, we went a stretch over a year without a shooting in Queensbridge Houses. Right from the get-go, we’ve tried to jump on the violence.”
Fortune said that the precinct’s goals for the next year are to continue to target violence, drive down crime and build better relationships with members of the community.
Deputy Inspector Deodat Urprasad, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, celebrated his precinct’s event at Victory Field in Forest Park.
“This is a night when the community and the police department come together in celebration of their partnership,” he said
Several hundred residents dropped by the 102nd Precinct’s event to talk with police officers and elected officials, eat burgers and hot dogs cooked by the precinct, ride in the precinct’s environmentally friendly squad car, sample wings from Kew Gardens’ Austin’s Ale House and listen to music.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) dropped by the event to congratulate the precinct on its work in the community. And a representative from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s office presented Urprasad with a proclamation for his dedication to the community.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) said that National Night Out is an important event since it enables Queens residents to meet the officers who keep their communities safe.
“Each year, National Night Out Against Crime celebrates the important partnership between our neighborhoods and the police department,” she said. “It shows we recognize the best way to keep our communities safe is by working together, block by block.”
And the 103rd Precinct’s National Night Out event at Jamaica’s Rufus King Park received visits by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, both of whom dropped by to congratulate the precinct on its neighborhood policing program which was introduced in October.
“I want everyone to understand this—neighborhood policing is changing things to the foundation,” de Blasio said. “The whole idea for the policing community is to build real personal relationships—to get officers to work in a small part of the neighborhood and get to know people personally on a first-name basis. We want our officers in the morning to say ‘hello’ to members of the community and the community to greet these officers. When people know each other and they keep working together and share ideas and information, it makes everyone safer. It’s an idea that is very old, but it’s an idea that really wasn’t present for a long time and it needed to be brought to this century.”
De Blasio presented a proclamation to Inspector John Cappelmann, the commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct.
O’Neill also extolled the virtues of the neighborhood policing program, which he said was encapsulated by National Night Out.
“You know, 20 to 25 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen this,” he said of the event. “We wouldn’t have seen this many people. You wouldn’t have seen kids here playing in the park. And this is all the result of hard work by the men and women of this great police department.”