Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge takes a Night Out Against Crime

August 5, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Baby, you can drive my car,” the Beatles sang back in the mid-1960s. Little Emma Casella gets behind the wheel of a patrol car. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Cops and civilians came together in a convivial atmosphere in Shore Road Park Tuesday evening to celebrate National Night Out Against Crime, an event designed to reinforce the importance of the police-community partnership.

Hundreds of people streamed through the park’s 79th Street entrance to enjoy a concert by the Ragdolls on the ball field, buy raffle tickets to win a chance at gift baskets and other prizes and meet police officers from the 68th Precinct who put their lives on the line everyday to protect them.

The event had a jovial feel to it.

People relaxed on lawn chairs as they waited for the concert to begin.

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Friendly police officers allowed children to get behind the wheel of a patrol car that was parked on the grass. Officer Yaser Shohatee let little Emma Casella pretend she was driving the squad car. The youngster had a big smile on her face. “She’s so excited!” her grandmother, Rosa Casella, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Lots of kids also came over to Capt. Ray Bear, a giant Teddy Bear dressed in a policeman’s uniform, to give him big hugs. One lucky person won Capt. Bear in a raffle and got to take him home.

The real commander of the 68th Precinct is named Ray Festino.

The park’s pedestrian path was lined with information tables set up by local lawmakers, civic organizations and arts groups whose members handed out information on the work they do.

Officer Susan Porcello, adviser to the 68th Precinct’s Law Enforcement Explorers, a club for teenagers interested in becoming cops, had her troops out. The teens were handing out coloring books to children and crime information tips to adults.

The precinct council and the police co-sponsored the event in the park. It served as the local version of Night Out Against Crime.

National Night Out Against Crime was founded by the nonprofit organization National Association of Town Watch in conjunction with the U.S. Justice Department in the early 1980s. It was originally designed as a vehicle for communities and local police departments to join together on one symbolic night in a show of unity against crime and drugs.

“The idea is to build up a true partnership between the police and the community,” Ilene Sacco, president of the 68th Precinct Community Council, told the Eagle last week. “What our event does is bring police and the community together in a relaxed atmosphere. They learn to trust each other and work together. That’s what keeps communities safer. Police can’t do it alone. They need the support of the community.”

Sacco and the precinct council also had pro-cop petitions available in the park for anyone to sign.

The precinct council had previously announced a “Summer of Support” campaign aimed at showing the support everyday New Yorkers have for police. Under the campaign, residents are being asked to sign pro-cop petitions and message boards.

The message boards will be presented to the 68th Precinct in the fall.





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