Sunset Park

Sunset Parkers show their support for cops

Business leaders present ‘Challenge Coins’ to 72nd Precinct

December 19, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Renee Giordano (left) and Delvis Valdes (second from left) of the Sunset Park BID present Challenge Coins to the 72nd Precinct. Photos courtesy of Tony Giordano
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What started out as a way for Sunset Park community leaders to show their support for the police in the wake of the tragic shooting deaths of Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in 2014 is quickly turning into a neighborhood tradition.

Members of the Facebook group Sunset Parker and leaders of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID) presented commemorative coins to police at the 72nd Precinct for the first time last year.

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The presentation took place again this year as Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park BID and Delvis Valdes, a member of the BID’s Board of Directors, recently visited the 72nd Precinct station house at 830 Fourth Ave. and gave “Challenge Coins” to Capt. Emmanuel Gonzalez and the precinct’s officers.

The concept of the Challenge Coin is one that has been seen throughout history, from Ancient Rome to WWI. The coins are small, specially-made medallions that usually display the insignia of a group or organization and are given to members of the group in recognition of a job well done. According to some accounts, during the days of the Roman Empire, soldiers used the coins as proof of membership when their membership was challenged, hence the term “Challenge Coin.”

The Sunset Park leaders originally sought to have the coins serve as a morale booster after the deaths of Liu and Ramos, according to Giordano, whose husband Tony Giordano is the creator of Sunset Parker. The group has more than 6,000 members.

Liu and Ramos were ambushed by a gunman and shot to death while sitting in their patrol car on a Bedford-Stuyvesant Street on Dec. 20, 2014.

Shortly after the two detectives were slain, the Sunset Parker group began an online discussion of how to honor and support their local officers at the 72nd Precinct.

The discussion largely focused on the creation of a pin or the minting of some type of keepsake to be presented to the officers.

In early 2015, the Giordanos approached Capt. Thomas Ng, the precinct’s commanding officer at the time, with the idea for a commemorative coin.

“When my husband and I met with the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct to discuss the plan, Capt. Ng lifted from his desk a small display stand with a half-dozen Challenge Coins and explained the tradition. So I knew our small gesture would be truly appreciated,” Renee Giordano said.

This year, Giordano and Valdes attended roll calls at the station house to shake hands with each officer and thank them for their service to the community.


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