Crowd turns out to support Bay Ridge cops

Residents came out en masse for the November meeting of the 68thPrecinct Community Council to show support for the men and women ofthe command, which was rocked last month by the arrest of sixcurrent and past officers in connection with an operation thatallegedly transported more than $1 million worth of illegal gunsand counterfeit goods into the city.

Though most of the people in the standing room only crowd didn’tspeak, they applauded when community council President Ilene Sacco– on behalf of the precinct council — presented Captain RichardDiBlasio, the precinct’s commanding officer, with a huge blueribbon whose centerpiece was a medal depicting a handshake, that,she said, symbolizes the relationship between cops andcommunity.

This is the best community in the world, the best precinct in theworld and the best captain in the world, Sacco asserted. One ofthe things that makes this community and precinct special is thatwe work together closely. We wanted to show that we are committedto maintaining the partnership.

It is a wonderful precinct, added longtime community activistMaureen Stramka. I want to applaud for everybody.

One resident in attendance said he was concerned that the arrestsof the 68th Precinct officers — Police Officers William Masso,Eddie Goris and John Mahoney, and retired Police Officers JosephTrischitta, Marco Venezia and Richard Melnik — in an FBI stingoperation had stoked, a lot of mistrust going on between lawenforcement and citizens and citizens and law enforcement.

if we don’t come together, there might be issues we don’t want tosee, contended Michael Clancy, who wanted to know what is goingto be done to heal the mistrust going on. There are good and badeverywhere. There are good and bad in every culture, race, religionand creed.. Unfortunately, the actions of one or two can damage thereputation of the 5,000.

But, DiBlasio said that the precinct’s officers have had adifferent experience. The officers of the 68th Precinct interactwith the community on a daily basis, and I have been out there andheard nothing but positive things, he said. Crime is down In the68th Precinct because of the unity between the community and thepolice officers. A lot of crimes are solved because the communitycomes to the police and give us information and because the policego to the community, because the police and community trust eachother.

It’s the bad stories that make headlines, not the good ones, addedSacco, who urged her listeners to tell all the goodstories.

For activist Larry Morrish, the blood that has been spilled by theofficers of the 68th Precinct protecting the neighborhood hassealed a bond that cannot be broken.

Morrish recalled when, as a member of BRAVO, he held P.O. DavidGuttenberg, of the 68th Precinct, who had been wounded in the lineof duty in 1978, as he died in my arms, protecting thiscommunity.

We support true blue, Morrish stressed. Anything regrettablethat may have just transpired, did not transpire in the confines ofthe 68th Precinct. We are one.

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