It was a great gesture any way you flip it.
The Sunset Park Business Improvement District presented “challenge coins” to officers at the 72nd Precinct as a show of support on Feb. 20. The coins and other tokens are common in the police, fire, and military communities — often one organization will give coins or patches to another it worked closely with — but civilians don’t normally get involved in the exchanges, one police officer said.
“The coins are common — there’s a lot of trading of coins and patches — but this is out of the ordinary,” said Police Officer Dean Hanan. “It’s so heartfelt.”
The business improvement district purchased the 500 tokens, but the idea was a grass-roots effort that sprouted out of the Sunset Parker Facebook page run by the husband of the group’s director.
“It started after the execution in December,” said business improvement district director Renee Giordano, referring to police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot and killed by madman Ismaaiyl Brinsley on Dec. 20. “People wanted to do something to show officers of the 72nd Precinct that we appreciate them.”
Giordano came to each of the precinct’s three daily roll calls on Feb. 20 to thank officers and give them the token of appreciation.
The coins feature a reproduction of the police department’s seal on one side and an invocation on the other.
The gesture shows that support is still strong for police, Hanan said — despite a tough summer where several videos emerged of officers getting rough with locals, and the news broke that officers from the precinct submitted false testimony against a street vendor they arrested in September.
The precinct’s commanding officer Captain Tommy Ng — a coin collector with about 20 challenge coins on display in his office — was out of town when Giordano presented the gifts at the station house, but he’ll have one waiting for him when he gets back, Hanan said.
And so will the other officers out Feb. 20 who are eagerly awaiting their token.
“I’m getting texts all day from guys who are off saying, ‘Save me one,’ ” Hanan said.