The 45th Precinct Community Council held its annual breakfast honoring community members and police officers who have made a difference over the past year.
A dozen police officers and community leaders were honored at the event, a celebration of the people that comprise the precinct, at Villa Barone Manor on Wednesday, May 11.
Bob Bieder, 45th Precinct Community Council president, said that events like the annual breakfast increase the community’s confidence in cops that patrol their neighborhoods.
The breakfast also brings together people from across the precinct’s service area.
“Geographically we are such a large precinct: from Castle Hill to Co-op City and everywhere in between,” said Bieder, “To get everyone sitting together, having breakfast and a shared experience just brings everyone closer together and makes us realize that we are one community.”
The event honored religious leader Bishop Angel Rosario; Lynn Gerbino, Throggs Neck Homeowners Association president; Westchester Square community activist Hannah Acampora; Fr. Robert Grippo, former pastor of St. Theresa Church; Alan Carena, Spencer Estate Civic Association president and Brenda Prohaska, City Island Community Center president.
Acompora said that it was great to be recognized, and that she wished more people in her community would get involved in working together with the NYPD to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life.
“It is important that the community have a good relationship with the police department, and vice versa,” she said.
Cops honored during the event were members of the precinct’s special operations team: sergeants Jason Diaz and Louis Martinez; as well as police officers Ronnie Mejia, Yilson Melendez, John Quis and Albert Garcia.
William Bratton, NYPD commissioner, addressed the crowd of hundreds, and said that revitalization of the city and the borough is built on improvements in pubic safety.
“Safety always has to be for any government, any city, any community, the first priority,” said Bratton in his remarks.
The police commissioner outlined a range of police department initiatives, including equipping officers with smartphone and tablet computers. He also spoke about plans to renovate 25 police stations and replace every locker room and bathroom in all precincts.
The precinct’s commanding officer, captain Danielle Raia, and chief Lawrence Nikunen also addressed the crowd.
Attending the breakfast were elected officials including District Attorney Darcel Clark, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Councilman Andy King and Councilman James Vacca.
Vacca recalled how he served on the 45th Precinct Community Council in the 1970s, and ran a youth program out of the precinct for three years, and then preceded to speak about his recollections of all of the honorees.
Vacca said that he first encouraged Carena to take over the helm of the SECA for one year, and that Carena is still in that role 25 years later.
The six civilian honorees were chosen from different regions around the precinct area, while the honored police were selected by the commanding officer.