Community activists welcome new CO of Brooklyn South

April 7, 2015 Meaghan McGoldrick
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It was a warm welcome on Tuesday, March 31 for Assistant Chief Steven Powers, the new commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, as community activists gathered at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center to show the new CO just what nabes like Bay Ridge and Sunset Park are all about: unity.

Before breaking bread, community activists shared with Powers the origins of the Unity Task Force and just why togetherness is so important in such a diverse community.

“We were founded the year before 9/11 and thank God we were,” said Larry Morrish, welcoming the new CO to what he called a “sacred” seat. “We were all together then, and we’re all together now. Today, we respect one another, we love our communities and – believe it or not – we have a sincere appreciation for our Police Department.”

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Habib Joudeh agreed, also thanking 68th Precinct Captain Raymond Festino and the 68th and 72nd Precinct’s community affairs units for continuing to make sure that everybody – including the Arab-Muslim communities – are taken care of.

“We welcome you to this neighborhood,” Joudeh said to Powers, “and we are sure you will be a great addition.”

Reverend Khader El-Yateem, clergy liaison for the 68th Precinct, also spoke highly of the local precincts’ support.

“Our Arab and Muslim communities, we had issues of trust with the NYPD, but our relationship with the local precincts should not be questioned,” he said. “The local precincts are here to protect our liberties and our freedom and we, as a community, are called to support them.”

While the communities are still working to build bridges with One Police Plaza, El-Yateem explained, the visit from Powers stood as an important reminder of open arms and open minds.

“The chief coming to us to extend a hand that he is open to us and available to us, this is remarkable to the relationship of the Arab-American and Muslim communities and the Police Department,” he said.

As for Powers, a South Brooklyn resident himself, he’s just happy to get to work.

“I want to make a couple of promises to you,” he said, assuring the crowd full of community leaders and activists that he is going to do his best for Brooklyn South. “If you ask me a question, if I know the answer, I’m going to give it to you – if I don’t, I’m going to get back to you with the answer.

“I’m going to be completely honest with you,” he said of his third and final promise. “There are going to be things that you’re going to ask me for that I can do, and there are going to be things that I can’t do. Right now, I’m only borough commander – I can’t get everything done. But I’m going to do my best.”

Powers replaced Chief Owen Monaghan who retired on Friday, March 6.

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