The 45th Precinct Community Council honored both cops and civilians at their annual breakfast.
The gala celebration of police and community togetherness took place on Wednesday, May 9 at Villa Barone with six community leaders and seven cops honored for their service.
Honored from the community were Michael McNerney, Country Club Civic Association president; Michelle Torrioni, Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association president; Fred Ramftl, City Island Civic Association vice president; Junius Williams, Riverbay Public Safety Committee director; former councilman James Vacca and Bill Mahoney, Edgewater Park Security Committee chairman.
Police personnel receiving awards were Sargent Ceasar Polanco, Sargent Edward Lawyer, Detective Michael Connor and police officers Mario Rodriguez, Jason Williamson, Gregg Albaum and Fernando Benitz-Colon.
Bob Bieder, community council president, called the event a “booming success” thanks in large part to not only the community, but to mom and pop merchants who offered sponsorships to help defray 60% of the costs for the attendees. The event will help fund the precinct’s youth explorer program, National Night Out Against Crime and pizza with a cop’ events.
“It was an overwhelming success where we had over 100 more people this year than last year,” said Bieder.
Attending the event was Deputy Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden, Councilman Ritchie Torres and Councilman Andy King, with just about every elected official from the community sending representatives to give their own awards to the honorees.
Honored as a community leader, Vacca recalled past challenges and said that it was important to support good leaders who emerge for the challenges ahead.
McNerney thanked his family for their support, as well as his parents, whom he said instilled in him a belief that he should be of service to his community.
“I simply steer the ship,” said McNerney, who gave much of the credit for what he is able to accomplish to the CCCA executive board and membership. Williams spoke about how he likes the diversity he finds in his home community of Co-op City and his belief that God is guiding him.
“Diversity is what makes us strong,” said Williams, who also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. concerning speaking up about important matters.
Ramftl said that the more people get involved in their neighborhoods, the stronger their communities are.
Annie Boller, a 45th Community Council board member, introduced Torrioni, who she described as a great friend and a community leader who fit being a community association president with a busy career.
Torrioni attributed this to the work of other community members, who allayed her fear of not being able to devote enough time to the association with their own volunteer efforts.
Mahoney could not attend the event because of a family emergency.
Edgewater Park community members who accepted the award on his behalf described him as an unassuming, humble man who recognized the importance of police and community relations.