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South Queens Speaks: Richmond Hill, 102nd Pct. join forces at anti-crime event

The 102nd Precinct held its 26th annual National Night Out Against Crime last week at the Maurice A. Fitzgerald Playground on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill with a cookout, music, give-aways and refreshments. A large crowd joined in with the festivities, meeting the police, elected officials and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Maria Thomson, president of the 102nd Precinct Community Council, hosted the event and helped organize the band, which played a mixture of oldies and pop music.

Night Out Against Crime is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, which was introduced in 1984 to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. According to the Night Out Against Crime Web site, it says that event helps make neighborhoods safer. Every year, from all 50 states, including Canada and military bases, citizens, civic groups, local officials, businesses and law enforcement agencies participate in this event.

In 2008, over 37 million people took part in the Night Out Against Crime and Thomson said it is a good way to thank the police officers and a way to get to know them in a relaxed setting. This year a large number of children attended and waited on long lines for pizza, Indian curry with rice, soda and glow sticks. Flags and key chains were also part of the give-aways. There were also talented Indo-Caribbean dancers who entertained the crowd.

An award from the 102nd Precinct was presented to state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) for his dedication to the precinct and Thomson received a proclamation for herself and the 102nd Precinct from Jennifer Manley, a borough community affairs director for the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.

Lancman said the police protect neighborhoods and present a strong and positive force. Thomson also believes that it is a great experience to have the Night Out Against Crime in all the boroughs.

“This event brings communities together to become more secure and safe,” Thomson said. “The officers are even grilling hotdogs. It is just a great night of fun and getting a chance to interact with our police officers.”

Capt. John Hall, from the 102nd Precinct, said everything happened here Tuesday night because of all the help from the officers. According to the Night Out Against Crime Web site, these yearly events actually lessen crime and adults and children have a yearly event to go to and meet the officers.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block and Richmond Hill Block associations, two local civic groups, came out and former City Councilman Tom Ognibene and Assembly candidate Albert Baldeo participated in the festivities.

“Night Out really promotes police-community relationships,” Thomson said. “Good food, music and dancing — what else could we ask for?”

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