Bay Ridge

Kids lead chorus of praise for 68th Precinct cops

Summer of Support campaign featured letters, posters and pictures

October 16, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Capt. Ray Festino, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct accepts a handmade poster from two of his biggest fans, Nicholas and Julianna Bambina. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Children led the way as the Bay Ridge community took time out on Thursday to come to the 68th Precinct to offer a show of support to the NYPD at a time in the city’s history when police-community relations could use an injection of positive energy.

“I am thanking all of Brooklyn’s Finest for keeping us safe, especially the 68th Precinct,” Preston Ferraiuolo, a student at Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School, said at the podium during a rally outside the precinct station house at 333 65th St. in Bay Ridge on Thursday.

Young Preston was one of several speakers at the Summer of Support campaign rally organized by Ilene Sacco, president of the 68th Precinct Community Council.

Back in June, Sacco and the community council started the Summer of Support effort, encouraging school children, senior citizens, members of civic groups and local elected officials to write messages of support for police. All through the summer and into the fall, thousands of letters, handmade posters, cards, drawings and photos poured in, according to Sacco.

The community council taped the messages to the walls inside the station house to show the officers of the precinct that the public is behind them.

Thursday’s rally marked the official end of the Summer of Support campaign.

“We are here to present the newly redone 68th Precinct to Capt. Festino,” Sacco said, referring to Capt. Ray Festino, the precinct’s commanding officer. “We just wallpapered the 68th Precinct with a hug,” Sacco added.

She called Summer of Support, “a stunning tribute to the men and women who leave their homes every day to keep us safe.”

Many of the letters and posters came from children.

Nicholas Bambina, a student at the Genesis middle school at Xaverian High School, and his sister Julianna presented Festino and Chief Steven Powers, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, with handmade posters.

Chief Eric Rodriguez, a former commander of the 68th Precinct, came back to his old station house to take part in the ceremony.

Preston, wise beyond his years, talked about the importance of supporting the police.

“I know how important it is to respect the law. There must be laws and accountability,” he said.

He also praised the work of the precinct community council, which he said helps the public feel connected to the NYPD.

Police-community relations across the country have deteriorated in recent years, due in part to accusations of police brutality. The 2014 deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, who was shot to death by a police officer, and Eric Garner, who was placed in an apparent chokehold by an officer on Staten Island, resulted in massive protest demonstrations in cities across the country.

Sacco did not mention those incidents, but said that she and the members of the community council sponsored Summer of Support as a way to shine a spotlight on the positive things police do.

While the event took place at the 68th Precinct, Sacco said the show of support was meant for the entire NYPD. “This is really about police everywhere,” she said.

Elected officials representing Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, the two neighborhoods the 68th Precinct covers, were also on hand to give a pat on the back to cops. State Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymember Peter Abbate and Councilmember Vincent Gentile all praised the police and the community council.


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