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Outstanding Police Work Gets Community Salute

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Three cops were honored for their continued dedication to the residents of the 61st Precinct last week. Although they couldn’t be there to receive the awards in person, members of the 61st Precinct Community Council gave Police Officers Mark Soave, Mark Schnayder and Chris Mullen a hearty salute at Wednesday’s meeting at the Bainbridge Center near the corner of Ocean and Voorhies avenues. President Joe Foy said that the three cops were supposed to be honored in the fall. “But their names were left off the list of trophies at the award ceremony,” said Foy, who said that when he heard what had happened, he wanted to make sure the officers received the appropriate accolades. “These trophies are nicer,” he joked. Mullen, officials said, was commended for leading the precinct’s Auxiliary Unit. His volunteer officers accepted the award on his behalf. Lt. Paul Putowski, the precinct’s Operations Lieutenant, accepted the awards on behalf of Schnayder and Souve. Those in attendance during the brief presentation included a handful of academy graduates who will spend their first assignment walking the streets of Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, Homecrest and parts of Midwood. Lt. Putowski said that 20 officers were assigned to the 61st Precinct. During their first few months, the officers will be seen on Avenue U, Kings Highway, and other popular transit and shopping lanes in the precinct, he said. Well wishes were also given to four officers who were injured in a motor vehicle accident last month. Police Officer Kevin Sample, Joseph Russo, Leslie Garcon and Ernest Dreuz were all injured when their cruisers smashed into each other at the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue Z the evening of December 21 while responding to a 911 call. Sample and Russo’s car was reportedly knocked into a horrifying spin, stopping only when it collided with a light pole. “They were responding to a call for help,” Lt. Putowski said. “Nationwide, the number one killer of cops is motor vehicle accidents while responding to jobs.” Putowski said that two of the officers were released from Coney Island Hospital that night. Officer Garcon was in intensive care for a week and needs months of rehabilitation, Putowski said. “If they weren’t wearing their seat belt, someone would have gotten killed,” the lieutenant said. “Their car was totally mangled. If you took a soda can, crushed it, and pulled it apart again, that’s how that car looked like.” Putowski remembered responding to the scene and seeing the destroyed car and the rivulets of red power steering fluid flowing from the engine. “I was thinking that it might have been blood,” Putowski said. “It was a scary moment…a scary moment for all of us.” During the course of the meeting, members of the council discussed creating a “sunshine committee” who will be responsible for sending well-wishes and flowers to those officers who are injured in the line of duty.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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