Today’s news:

70th Precinct Medal Day

The 70th Precinct Medal Day awards ceremony at the Prospect Park Picnic House last week wasn’t just about accolades. It was also a time for the officers to take up a special challenge.

“We’re going to try to win a Unit Citation two years in a row,” Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte, the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct said, referring to the prestigious NYPD honor that the precinct received just a week earlier. “We want to win again next year.”

Twelve commands throughout the city received the special award, which honored impressive crime reductions in 2008.

In the 70th Precinct’s case, the cops assigned to the Lawrence Avenue station house fought to slash the number of shootings in Flatbush and Midwood. They were successful −− quite successful, in fact.

Not only were shootings cut in half last year, but the number was the lowest in the precinct’s history. The precinct also saw the lowest number of homicides in the command’s history.

Monteforte credits his officers for the precinct’s success. Each cop assigned is motivated to bring the community back to the residents who live there, he explained.

“I am extremely proud of all of the great work they did last year,” Monteforte said, rattling off a list of successes: 221 drunk driver arrests, 285 drug arrests, the taking of 94 guns off the street.

“Last year, for the first couple of months we were up in violence. Our officers took on a tough job, but they turned everything around,” he said.

Cops made sure that felony crime in the command dropped by four percent last year. They achieved this without the support of an Impact Zone for five of the 12 months.

This year, felony crime is down by 18 percent, according to NYPD statistics.

“That’s a feat hard to do after winning an award, but it shows how hard our officers are working,” he said.

Medal Day, which was also considered an “appreciation day,” was a special thank−you for the officers’ hard work.

Over 700 people turned out as 150 awards were distributed and every cop received a copy of the unit citation.

A special “Cop of the Year” award was given to Police Officer Hiram Riffas, who has garnered a high number of arrests, as well as the respect of the community members he’s met on his midnight tour.

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