The 100th Precinct Community Council in Rockaway Beach returned to its traditional in-person format at the Knights of Columbus on Beach 90th Street on June 28 after three years of meeting virtually on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s good to see everybody in person,” said 100th Precinct Community Council President Kathy Heavey in opening remarks, which was met with applause from a large crowd of local officers and civilians.
As much as the meeting was a return to normalcy, however, the return to in-person meetings marked some additional changes, as the 100th Precinct Community Council said goodbye to two of its longtime members in Vice President Andrew McGee and Sergeant-at-Arms Ahmad Edwards.
McGee, known to most people as “Andy,” enters retirement after serving on the 100th Precinct Community Council for the last 26 years. The 89-year-old Rockaway local previously worked as an NYPD police officer between 1965 and 1990.
For the majority of his career, McGee worked in the nearby 101st Precinct, patrolling the streets of the peninsula’s eastern side before joining the 100th Precinct Community Council seven years after his retirement from the force.
“Your work has really spoken for you over these last 26 years,” Deputy Inspector Carlos Fabara, the precinct’s commanding officer, said to McGee. “Being here for us on the community council has been really special and we really appreciate it.”
Heavey reiterated this appreciation on behalf of the rest of the council, adding that McGee was always the one to keep everyone calm during uncertain times.
“When things got frantic … Andy would always say, ‘Kathy, go home, relax, put your feet up and have a Manhattan,’” Heavey said. “Andy, now we’re going to say to you, ‘Go home, relax, put your feet up and have a Manhattan.”
“His wealth of knowledge was invaluable to all of us and remains so,” Heavey added.
To honor McGee’s service, Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Maximo Tolentino presented McGee with the Civilian Commendation Award and Deputy Inspector Fabara presented McGee with a certificate of recognition.
“I don’t have much to say except thank you,” McGee said. “I enjoyed the work and worked with a lot of very nice people.”
As for Edwards, known to everyone as “Ozzie,” Heavey praised him for his nine years of service on the 100th Precinct Community Council and how locals have come to know and love him as a “calm, cool and collected mediator” with a great sense of humor.
“Everyone — and I do mean everyone — in Rockaway knows Ozzie,” Heavey said. “If you’re lucky enough to know Ozzie, you have a true friend.”
Edwards, who works as a CPR instructor for the FDNY EMS, said his decision to leave the council came down to two factors: wanting to get more involved without any community attachments and encouraging others to become more civically engaged. While acknowledging that his departure “hurts,” Edwards added that he hopes to see new people bring about positive change in the community.
“I want everybody to look at each other and look at the faces that [are] in here,” Edwards said. “If you’re here, it shows that you care about the community … You can make a change in the community.”
This sentiment was echoed by NYPD Chief of Queens South Kevin Williams, who added that the community would benefit from a wider diversity of voices to help call attention to issues and develop solutions.
“I challenge everyone here to get more people involved,” Williams said. “In order for us to be a very effective police department, we need to hear from everybody.”
To fill the gaps left behind by McGee’s and Edward’s departures, the 100th Precinct Community Council had an election during the meeting in which attendees who had attended at least 10 meetings during the calendar year could vote.
With 30 eligible voters total, the council’s Election committee announced that Liz Geraghty of the Rockaway Civic Association was elected vice president; community activist Eddy Pastore was elected sergeant-at-arms; and local business owner Scott Ruscillo was elected corresponding secretary, a position previously held by Lynda Connelly.
This time around, Connelly was instead elected recording secretary, and Heavey retained her position as president after running unopposed, as well as treasurer Jean Daouphars.
To make it official, District 23 Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato called on the newly elected members to be sworn in. She also remarked on the service of the outgoing members.
“You’ve set the bar high,” Pheffer Amato said. “We’re so grateful in this community to have you. That’s the bar that we should be setting — to volunteer and put that time in.”
McGee and Edwards, however, were not the only ones acknowledged at the meeting, as Deputy Inspector Fabara will also depart the 100th Precinct sometime after the summer.
Fabara, who grew up in Rockaway, arrived at the 100th Precinct as “Captain Fabara” in the summer of 2020 during the early months of the pandemic. Three years later, the council credits Fabara for his “open communication” and service to the community.
“You have made my job so much easier because you really know how to police, you know what’s needed, and you’re not afraid to enforce,” District 32 City Councilwoman Joann Ariola told Fabara. “You’ll never get out of our grip.”
With Fabara’s departure imminent, the 100th Precinct has since welcomed Executive Officer Captain Carol Hamilton, who will eventually take the reins.
“I’m happy to be here,” Hamilton said. “I’m excited and ready to work with everyone.”