BY DEAN MOSES
The expansive hall and aged wood of the Knockdown Center that is usually reserved for art pieces and dancing was transformed on Feb. 27 into a luxurious ballroom in order to celebrate two heroes: Officer Darren Mays and the 104th Precinct’s Civilian Observation Patrol (also known as G-Cop).
Members of the NYPD, their family, and friends flocked to 52-19 Flushing Ave. for the annual Cop of the Year fundraiser celebration (all the proceeds from the raffles and gala tickets fund the community council). The dinner is designed to champion the service of officers who go above and beyond their call of duty by making a difference in the community.
The night commenced with a stellar rendition of the National Anthem while a color guard showed their respect by displaying the flag. This was followed by speeches from 104th Precinct Community Council President Len Santoro, Commanding Officer Captain Victoria C. Perry, and Chief of Personnel for One Police Plaza Martin Morales.
“Folks usually ask me: What are the criteria for selecting the Cop of the Year? We pick the cops that embody the spirit of the precinct and the neighborhood. It’s that simple, and we hit a home run every time. So, with that [being said,] I want to present the Cop of the Year Award to Officer Darren Mays,” said Santoro.
Mays is highly regarded in the community thanks to his strong work ethic and readiness to aid others, which ultimately uplifts his precinct. Mays is also renowned for keeping and tending to beehives on the rooftop of the 104th Precinct, juggling two roles: by night he patrols the streets protecting the community while many are at home sleeping, yet by day he tries to improve the environment by caring for our natural pollinators.
“I want to thank the community, the Middle Village, Maspeth, and Glendale [areas.] I’ve been in this command 18 years plus, been on midnight [patrols] a very long time in this command. I want to thank you guys because I live upstate, and I could have had the opportunity to transfer to the Bronx, but because this is such a great command, I refused to leave. This is a very good community. I wouldn’t want to work in any other place!” exclaimed Mays, who received a standing ovation from audience members upon humbly receiving his award.
Although the ceremony was centered on the officer, he couldn’t resist offering his own award to attendees for showing him their support. Earlier in the evening he placed tickets beneath one chair at each of the 20 tables for lucky guests to find, which they exchanged for pots of his own honey.
In addition to commemorating Mays for his diligent work, Santoro also awarded 104th Precinct’s Civilian Observation Patrol (G-Cop) for their years of volunteering to help guard the neighborhood.
Elected officials, such as Assemblyman Brian Barnwell and Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., along with representatives from Assemblyman Mike Miller, Councilman Robert Holden and Congresswoman Grace Meng’s offices, also showed their support by providing proclamations and citations to the honorees.