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National Night Out Against Crime
By Nancy Rubin Stuart

Crime is always a hot topic, and when it was combined with the cool weather of Tuesday, August 6, more than five hundred residents of Turtle Bay turned out for the 18th Annual National Night Out Against Crime. Hosted by the 17th Police Precinct Community Council and held at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, this year's event was considered one of the most successful ever, according to many participants.

"The weather helped, but we expected crowds like this because we think this is a time that people want to connect," said Detective Frank Bogucki, Community Affairs Officer for the 17th Police Precinct. "Our job is to make people feel comfortable with the 17th Precinct and understand that we're dedicated to keeping the residential, business and diplomatic communities of Turtle Bay safe. It's an important event that brings us all closer."

To highlight that mission, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was filled with various NYPD exhibits staffed by members of the 17th Precinct. Among them were tables for fingerprinting, safety tips, auxiliary police volunteers, medical rescue, the new police museum and police recruitment unit. At the Plaza's southern edge a large Police air boat was also on display.

As Turtle Bay residents strolled through the Plaza, they were entertained by music from Bill Turner & his Blue Smoke Rock & Roll Band, which, in turn, inspired some residents to dance. "We love this band. This is the kind of music that appeals to everyone here, to people of all ages," said Turtle Bay volunteer, Morris Tarragano.

"It's the music, the weather and the fact that so many people are connecting that make tonight such a special event," added Bill Huxley, a TBA board member.

Other tables staffed by representatives from organizations as varied as United Breast Cancer, Bide-A-Wee, Pfizer and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation provided Turtle Bay residents with useful information. For children there were moon rides, free popcorn, finger- and face-painting tables and balloons.

Adding to the festive air of the night were concession stands providing soft drinks and a variety of foods and snacks.

The highlight of the evening was the appearance of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. In his talk - the fifth of his appearances around the city that evening on behalf of the National Night Out Against Crime - Mr. Bloomberg observed that New York is the "safest big city in the nation." While crime was down nationally by 6% this past year, Mr. Bloomberg observed that it declined by 12% in New York City alone, despite the downturn in the economy. He concluded by praising the 17th Precinct for its dedicated work, emphasizing that its success was highly dependent upon the cooperative spirit that existed between the Precinct and the residents of Turtle Bay.

Police Commander Ray Kelly spoke next, reminding Turtle Bay residents that "You are the eyes and ears of the community" and praised the 17th Police Precinct Community Council for its fine work improving the quality of life in Turtle Bay. "Residents must continue to be alert and vigilant," Commander Kelley added, and reminded members of the audience to call 1-888-NYC-SAFE if they see anything troubling or suspicious.

Mayor Bloomberg then presented Jay Litwin, President of the 17th Police Precinct Community Council, with a plaque officially proclaiming August 6, 2002 as National Night Out Against Crime.

A stirring rendition of the national anthem was sung by Police Detective David Arellano, followed by comments from several area leaders. Among those who spoke were State Senator Liz Krueger of the 26th District, New York State Assemblyman John Ravitz of the 73rd District, Eva Moscowitz of the city council, District 4, Police Chief Michael Esposito and Jay Litwin.

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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