2015-03-04 / Features

108th Precinct Police Holds February Gathering

BY THOMAS COGAN

Bad weather forced a cancellation of January’s 108th Police Precinct Community Council meeting, so its Cop of the Month award, won by two patrol officers, was carried over to February, when the latest Cop of the Month award went to two more patrol officers.  All the winners went through dramatic incidents that impressed both those attending the meeting and the man at the head of the precinct, Commander Captain John Travaglia, who said that most ordinary police work can become extraordinary, as it did in these incidents.  He read a report that showed further reductions in crime for the year thus far.  This included burglaries, a notable irritation in recent months, which were down by 40 percent.

The January awardees were Patrol Officers William Calderara and Corey Sarro.  They were on patrol on Thomson Avenue on the night of Tuesday, December 16, when they discovered a man lying on the sidewalk in front of La Guardia Community College.  They could detect no pulse and got the defibrillator in the patrol car.  They had to make two applications of electricity before raising a heartbeat.  With that done, they called Elmhurst Medical Center and had an ambulance come to take the stricken man away. 

For their effort to save the man, Officers Calderara and Sarro were awarded plaques.  They also had a visit from Bruce Brooks, who described himself as a “pretty much retired” fine arts teacher from La Guardia.  Brooks was the man found stricken on the sidewalk in mid-December.   He and his wife came to the awards ceremony, where he asked rhetorically, “How do you thank someone who saves your life?” and Mrs. Brooks thanked them for saving him so they could grow old together.  Saving him is plainly what the two officers did in attending to him and calling the hospital.  Such was his medical situation that a doctor at Elmhurst said to Brooks, “You didn’t dodge a bullet, you dodged a bomb.”  Brooks has a friend who designs trophies and awards, so he had him design two additional plaques for Officers Calderara and Sarro.

The winners in February were Patrol Officers Gerald La Clair and Fatimah Irvin.  Shortly after 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 7, the two were processing arrests when a 911 call came in, saying an incident was in progress at 42-56 21st St. and shots had been fired.  They hurried to the scene to find three men detained by a security officer and apprehended them.   A man wounded twice by the gunfire was found inside the establishment at the address.  He was delivered to a hospital and is now said to be recovering.  P.O. La Clair and Irvin, like P.O. Calderara and Sarro before them, got regular plaques and specially designed ones, those being delivered by the owners at 42-56 21st St.  The owners also praised the security officer who was on guard at the address and pursued the perpetrators.

“We almost get to referring to their work as routine,” Captain Travaglia said of duties carried out by such officers as the January and February Cops of the Month.  But he said he sees what is happening in his precincts and reads reports coming in from many others and can consider little of it routine.  

At question time, a man asked the commander about a hit and run incident on Queens Boulevard where the victim was killed.  Was the 108th doing anything about it? he asked.  Capt. Travaglia said such incidents are handled by the highway patrol unit.  The man then asked about old and unsolved homicides, such as the deaths of the man in Sabba Triangle in September 2013 and Louis Rispoli in October 2012.  The commander said he was looking through both cases before they got any colder.  He said the Rispoli case could be solved if a few things were put together, and he believes they can be.

A couple of neighborhood matters were covered at the meeting also.  The commander called Frank Corrado to the front so “the mayor of Long Island City” could announce that a show of several of his local photographs, before-and-after pictures of particular places, would be opening Thursday, March 26 at the New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Ave.  Don McCallion of the community council and United Forties Civic Association, said that the association, Community Board 2 and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office are on a drive to supply local homeless people with socks to help them endure the winter weather.  McCallion said that the homeless can often protect their bodies with rags, boxboard or newspapers but leave their feet unprotected by wearing no socks under their footwear.  New socks (not pre-owned ones, please) are being sought in the drive, which goes on through Sunday, March 15.  They can be delivered to Councilman Van Bramer’s office, 47-01 Queens Blvd., Suite 205.

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