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110th Pct. swings its doors open to Elmhurst nabes

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So in what 110th Precinct Community Council President Debra Cohen called an unprecedented community outreach effort, the commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Martin Conway, the Community Council and other officers put together a weekend open house.

"This precinct has been here since LaGuardia was mayor," said Crime Prevention Officer Richie Garland. "Sometimes it's not so easy being next to the police station ... this is our way of saying 'thank you.'"

For a full afternoon Saturday, neighborhood tykes bopped up and down on a moon bounce set up outside the 110th Precinct at 93-41 43rd Ave. under the watchful eye of an officer who shouted, "Are you guys ready for the bounce of your life?" Meanwhile, older kids and adults examined police equipment and indulged in the lavish picnic that ran the gamut from hot dogs and burgers to cold cuts and doughnuts.

In another first, Conway put the word out to all his officers to bring along the whole family. "This way the community can see (the officers) have kids, that they're real people," said Evelyn DeCoursey of the 110th Precinct Community Council.

Garland, who showed up with his two children, 5-year-old Sarah and 3-year-old Evan, agreed. Capt. Hank Yaeger, who brought along 3-year-old Katherine and 5-year-old Thomas, also agreed.

"It's great, this is wonderful," said 33-year-old Miguel Urgiles, who dropped by with his wife Sonia and daughter Denise to grab a bite to eat.

Urgiles, an Elmhurst resident who lives on 43rd Avenue next door to the precinct, said he loved being near the police. "It's OK. There's better assistance," he said.

The precinct's Explorers, a volunteer group aimed at familiarizing teens with law enforcement practices, were also on hand to help out with free fingerprinting for children.

Elmhurst native Ricardo Romero, 16, said that since he joined the program about a month ago, he has already started to contemplate a career in law enforcement. "I'm thinking about it," he said.

In addition to the food and vehicles, people were able to tour the holding cells and a St. John's Hospital ambulance was on hand to assist with free blood pressure screenings. Paramedic Willis Sands and EMT Mary Whelan said with a joking smile that the questions they most often get from teenagers at events such as Saturday's are "How much do you make?" and "Where do you keep the needles?"

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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