It was a summer well-spent, indeed.
Members of the community – young and old – gathered at the 68th Precinct station house on Thursday, October 15 so the 68th Precinct Community Council could unveil its latest makeover. In light of a summer of hard work, the precinct walls are now plastered with posters, cards and letters of support from the Bay Ridge community and beyond.
The unveiling was the end-product of the first-ever Summer of Support, a thanks-oriented initiative kicked off by the council in June.
“In June of this year we all stood here and announced the Summer of Support,” said 68th Precinct Community Council President Ilene Sacco, “and I have to be honest, after I stepped off the mic that day, I was terrified thinking, ‘Oh my God, I have to make sure this happens,’ but the community once again came through and the project took on a life of its own.”
What began as just a Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights effort quickly expanded, Sacco said.
“People just kept calling and e-mailing, asking how to help,” she explained. “We received calls from other parts of the city and even the country about this.”
The project’s success was evident in walls-worth of “thank you”s, including handmade posters from local schools, cards and banners from nearby senior centers and even signed letters of support from local elected officials.
“This was a real collaborative effort,” Sacco said. “This wasn’t us signing fake names all summer. This was people trying to make a statement that Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and actually everywhere support their police.”
Local electeds were present to echo Sacco’s sentiments, not just to community members but to 68th Precinct Captain Raymond Festino, NYPD Chief Steven Powers and Deputy Chief Eric Rodriguez as well.
“We have a very small, small number of incidents that seem to make all the newspapers in the world, channels 7, 2, 4, [and] 11, and it’s always negative police stories when they should be positive,” said State Senator Marty Golden, a retired NYPD officer himself, tipping his hat not only to the community but also to Sacco. “Today channels 2, 4, 7 and 11 should be here. The New York Times, The Daily News and The Post should be here, seeing what the support of this community is to our police, not just here in the 68th Precinct, but to our police across this great city and state.”
“Ilene, when you put [this] together, I knew it was going to be a success because this community always supports the police and continues to support the police,” said Assemblymember Peter Abbate. “I’m proud to represent a community that goes out of its way to do things like this. You don’t see this throughout the city.”
Councilmember Vincent Gentile agreed.
“Ilene said that this was a collaborative effort – and it was – but it was also a Herculean effort to get all of these groups together,” he said. “It is beautiful [inside the precinct] and it really reflects the sentiments of this community.”
Local students were also on hand to say their thanks.
“As a middle school student at the Christa McAuliffe Business and Law Academy, I know how important it is to respect the law and to respect those that enforce the law,” said I.S. 187 student Preston Ferraiuolo before awarding Captain Festino with a framed, hand-made poster. “We’re lucky here in South Brooklyn. Not only are we the coolest place on the planet to live but we are the safest.”
In addition, Nicholas and Julianna Bambina read messages of gratitude.