Neighbors mixed, mingled, and ate free food alongside the NYPD’s 78th Precinct on Tuesday evening at Grand Army Plaza for the National Night Out Against Crime, an annual event that began in 1984 as an effort to promote police-community partnerships.
Local politicians stopped by the event to commend the precinct as well, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilmember Brad Lander, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Assemblymember Joan Millman, and all took the opportunity to welcome out new Commanding Officer, Captain Frank DiGiacomo and the new Community Council President, Wayne Bailey.
“I appreciate all the businesses and community people coming out and helping us,” Captain DiGiacomo said.
BP Adams, who served as a police officer for 21 years before getting into politics, noted the importance of the 78th Precinct in particular in Brooklyn.
“To cover Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza, it’s a great role,” he said. “This night gives us an opportunity to say to the city that we are not going to surrender our streets to criminals.”
Councilmember Brad Lander touched on some local issues as he welcomed the new Commanding Officer just a few blocks from where a new memorial to Sammy Cohen Eckstein, the 12-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a van on Prospect Park West last year, had been installed by Right of Way.
“The partnership between police and community is an important one, and this precinct does a great job with that,” he said, noting their increased attention to street safety in the months since Sammy’s death, and adding that he is looking forward to collaborating with them as they continue their work on Vision Zero initiatives.
In a string of speeches, there was only one brief reference to all the recent media attention regarding the NYPD’s recent rocky relations with the community, from the apparent choke-hold death during the arrest of Eric Garner, to an alleged assault on a man handcuffed to a stretcher.
“It doesn’t matter what you read in the papers, we’ve got the finest police department in the world,” said Deputy Chief Tony Christo.
As for building stronger relationships between the community and our 78th Precinct, the new Commanding Officer seems ready and willing to work with neighbors.
“So far, so good,” Captain DiGiacomo told us when we asked how his first few weeks have been. ”I’ve been meeting a lot of people, and look forward to people coming out to meet us as Community Council meetings.”
Assemblymember Millman echoed the importance of the Community Council as a bridge between the precinct and the neighborhood.
“The precinct meetings are so important,” she said. “You can come and they’ll listen to your issues.”
The next 78th Precinct Community Council meeting comes up after the summer break on Tuesday, September 30 at 7:30pm (with a transportation safety meeting preceding it at 6:30pm) at the precinct at 65 6th Avenue.