The community-oriented event is part of a national effort to heighten public crime prevention awareness, encourage participation in anti-crime programs, and to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police and community relationships. It’s an especially good opportunity for children to get to know their local police officers.
The event is intended to send the message to criminals that the neighborhood is organized, united, and fighting back. Community groups, businesses, and local public officials joined in as sponsors of the three-hour event.
Community Affairs officers from the 104th Precinct distributed brochures and explained crime prevention programs on how to protect their homes, businesses, and identities, as well as their cars and computers against theft.
The important safety message was delivered in a fair-like atmosphere with numerous activities including paddlestick jousting, an inflated jump-bounce castle, a water slide, make-up artists painting hands and faces, and custom-made balloons.
Attendees also enjoyed a Taekwondo demonstrations and a dance competition with winners receiving a travel holiday prize for excelling in “rhythmic competence.” Food and drinks were complimentary.
Marta Cartio of Ridgewood and her five children were enjoying the program.
“My husband comes here to play with the kids,” she said. “They all like the water activity the best.”
Mabio Nagib from Glendale brought his two children to the event. At the free franks stand, he commented, “We’re all having a really good time thanks to the 104th Precinct.”
Community members had the opportunity to learn about and sign up for the Auxiliary Police Program, Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP), and for teenagers, the Law Enforcement Explorers and Auxiliary Police programs.
Louis Kirchtessner, president of the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol, dispensed brochures and recruitment information at his table.
“We invite the public to join our automobile patrols that go out two or three times a week for about three or four evening hours,” he explained. “We fan out across Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, and Middle Village and alert the 104th to something in progress, such as a burglary, mugging, or acts of vandalism.”
Currently, the group has 75 active members, and volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
“The more the community knows of our security and watchful presence, the better,” Kirchgessner added.
“Two weeks ago,” he said, “with helicopters overhead, we helped search the whole 104th for a missing elderly person with Alzheimer’s. Two days later, he came home by himself in a cab. He left home without telling anyone that he went to visit a friend.”
Open to 14 to 21 year olds, the career-oriented 104th Precinct Law Enforcement Explorers Program gives youngsters an insight into police work while developing their personal skills via many hands-on training and positive youth activity projects. In the process, members gain self-discipline and self-confidence.
Dressed in a smart, blue uniform, 18-year-old Sergeant Stephanie Reynoso explained why she joined four years ago.
“I really like it,” she said. “We help the police and the community on our foot and car patrols with the Youth Services Officer, who teaches us law enforcement procedures. There’s also community events like helping kids with reading at the library, trips, competitions, and sports activities.
“The program helps develop character, responsibility and a sense of duty to the community,” she continued. “We do military-like drills, learn the value of discipline, and how to act around people.”
Officer Robert Rosado of the 104th Auxiliary Police is a retired Corrections officer who’s been a member for a year-and-a-half. He joins a two-person foot patrol in Ridgewood and Glendale on Saturdays to help make the community safer.
“Our objective is to show an omnipresence,” he explained, “because when people see our blue uniforms, they feel more secure.”
The patrol radios back to the 104th Precinct anything out of order happening, from car accidents to street arguments, he explained
Auxiliary police carry handcuffs and can make civilian arrests, but take action only up to the point where their safety may be in doubt. In an argument, for example, they try to calm people down until an officer arrives. Spotting graffiti vandalism in progress, the auxiliary police can discreetly intervene, but most likely would alert a squad car to take action.
Why should someone join the Auxiliary Police?
“It’s a good first step for a young person interested in a law enforcement career,” Rosado said. “It’s good for your resume while you are familiarizing yourself with the various aspects of police work.”
Since 1984 “National Night Out — America’s Night Out Against Crime” has grown to involve over 37 million people from more than 15,000 communities nationwide and in Canada.