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84th Precinct Community Council meeting ‘weird’ without Leslie Lewis

October 26, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Police Officer Denise Olsen (second from right) was honored for helping save the lives of two people who nearly drowned off the coast of South Hampton last month while she was off duty. Pictured from left: 84th Precinct Community Council President Tony Ibelli, Helen Wilk, John Velazquez, Pastor Greg Wilk, Mary Buddenhagen, Eric Olsen, Police Officer Denise Olsen and Deputy Inspector Sergio Centa. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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For the past 25 years, Leslie Lewis had been a mainstay of the 84th Precinct Community Council meetings. On Tuesday, the community council met for the first time since the passing of its longtime president — and in the words of Deputy Inspector Sergio Centa, the meeting was “weird” without Lewis.

“I keep looking down for him, expecting him to make some sort of joke, but he’s not there,” Centa said. “This is weird.”

Lewis, who was born in the Bronx in 1927 and served as the 84th Precinct’s Community Council president since 1993, passed away at Methodist Hospital on Oct. 13. Tuesday’s meeting in Downtown Brooklyn was the group’s first since he passed.

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“He fell ill back in the beginning of August and really took a turn for the worse towards the end of September,” Centa explained. “He missed our last meeting and was in and out of the hospital until about a week and a half ago.”

Throughout Lewis’ tenure, a tradition developed where every year, members of the 84th Precinct would bring him a lemon meringue pie for his birthday. Centa said that for some reason, nobody brought him a pie during his most recent birthday, so he and a few other officers surprised him with one just two days before he passed.

“I’m not sure why we didn’t do it this year, but myself and a few others — Diana Torres, Sal Ferrante, John Kenny [and] retired Community Affairs Detective Freddy Mitchell — went to Junior’s and got him that lemon meringue pie and brought it to him in the nursing home,” Centa said. “I’m so glad that we did. That was the last time I saw him. He was so happy that he ate that whole pie.”

There was no wake or funeral service for Lewis, so the 84th Precinct is planning to honor him during its next meeting on Nov. 15 at Borough Hall. His family members, including his wife Miriam and sons Robert and Marc, are expected to be in attendance.

Longtime Vice President Tony Ibelli took over for Lewis as president.


In keeping with a tradition that Lewis loved, the 84th Precinct Community Council decided to go ahead with business as usual and name a Cop of the Month for October — Officer Denise Olsen.

Olsen was honored for saving the lives of two potential drowning victims in South Hampton in Long Island on Sept. 9 while she was off-duty. Olsen tried to downplay her role in saving the two swimmers and was only honored after Centa received a letter from Thomas Cummings, the chief of police in South Hampton.

“I was shocked, because normally, when something like this happens, it’s all over the news,” Centa said. “She was like Clark Kent; she did her thing and then slipped into the crowd. She didn’t get enough recognition for it, and when I saw this I thought that we had to do something for her.”


Crime is down 11 percent for the year within the 84th Precinct, and Centa is hoping to hold those double-digit gains through the new year. More recently, however, crime is up slightly, with five incidents occurring over the last 28-day period.

“The issue this last month or so has been the grand larcenies,” Centa said. Grand larcenies are down more than 15 percent for the year, from 542 incidents this time last year to 460 incidents so far this year, but have recently become a problem again. “I’ve said this before — the unattended grand larcenies [are] and will always be an issue within the 84.”

Centa reported that grand larcenies continue to be a problem in Brooklyn Bridge Park because of unattended property, mostly near the soccer fields on Pier 5. Newly installed lockers should cut down on the issue once people start using them, but Centa said he doesn’t expect the issue to go away as the City Point Mall opens on Fulton Street.

“Century 21 opened up about two weeks ago, and within two hours we took a grand larceny for a person who left their wallet in the bathroom and when they came back it was gone,” he said.


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