by Nicole Turso
The 106th Precinct in South Queens held their annual “Night Out Against Crime” Tuesday evening, as part of the 25th anniversary of the National crime prevention event.
Night Out 2008, which was supported by local citizens, merchants, and neighborhood organizations, was held at Police Officer Edward Byrne Park in South Ozone Park on North Conduit Avenue, between 131st and 134th streets.
Community Affairs Officer Kenneth Zorn of the 106th Precinct said that the location change of the event from its former site in front of the precinct at Police Officer Nicholas Demutiis Playground, did not affect the turn out—with several hundred attendees including residents of Howard Beach, Ozone Park and South Richmond Hill.
“This is the most diverse precinct in the city,” Zorn said, “We have an additional charge to include everyone from all of the neighborhoods in the events.”
Among the sponsors of this year’s event were the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, the Queens Public Library, as well as a number of civic associations, including Tudor Village, Richmond Hill South, Locust Grove, the South Ozone Park Community Development Corporation and South Ozone Park West. Sponsorship of the event rose this year according to Zorn, with businesses throughout the precinct’s neighborhoods participating.
Knock Out Pest Control Inc. supplied information for residents about guarding their homes from unwanted critters, the 106th Community Council sponsored the hot dogs and sausage and Millennium Realty Corp. lent a hand with snow cones for the kids. Area children were given horse rides from the Federation of Black Cowboys, enjoyed a variety of treats including ice cream and pizza, received gym bags giveaways just in time for the new school year, and learned about how they could get involved with the local precinct to continue keeping their neighborhoods safe.
Representatives from the two corporations vying to become Franchise Holder for Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) operations at Aqueduct Race- track, came out in support of the event and the community surrounding the amusement facility. Chief Financial Officer Leo Chutask attended on behalf of Capital Play and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and SL Green Realty Corp’s Senior Vice President Lawrence Thompson, represented the Hard Rock company, which sponsored the ice cream truck. The New York Racing Association also provided giveaways, including hats and T-shirts.
Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who has throw his hat into the Senate race this November, was also on hand to show his support. “We want everyone to feel that we aren’t just policing the community, we are involved in the community,” Zorn explained. “We are giving different ways for the youth of the community to interact with the police—whether it be this event or a pick-up basketball game with PAL, a positive reaction is a positive reaction.”
Frank Dardani, President of the 106th Precinct Community Council, believes the event not only strengthens police department and community rapport, but also raises awareness of the council to residents, and the assistance it provides.
“We hope that more people will be aware that there is a place for them to go to lodge complaints,” Dardani said. “They can come to a meeting at a precinct and get help there. When they speak to a commanding officer one on one, they have direct contact with the department. For us as an organization, they gain confidence in the police department and what they do.”
National Night Out Against Crime, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, promotes crime and drug prevention awareness as well as community support and participation with local police departments across the country.
The 106th Precinct Community Council meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 8:00 p.m. at the 106th Precinct station house.
Photo: Robert Stridiron