BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Leaders in local, state and national law enforcement joined emergency response teams and civic groups in celebration of the 39th annual Law Day hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Maspeth on May 22 at Maspeth’s I.S. 73.
Maspeth-based lawyer and Kiwanis member Edward McGowan created Law Day back in 1976 as a civic project for his term as the group’s president. The event initially began with 10 guest speakers and has since expanded to include over 30 instructors and speakers from all facets of law enforcement and legal professions.
McGowan created the program as a way to give back to the children of the community, as well as to the school he himself once attended.
“This school is my foundation for what I am today,” he said. “The program is all about giving the kids the opportunity to sit in a classroom with a uniformed officer and ask questions.”
This year’s Law Day event featured representatives and guest speakers from a wide range of groups, including officers from the 104th Precinct, Maspeth Kiwanis, the MTA Police Unit, the Middle Village Ambulance Squad, NYC Office of Emergency Management, DSNY Community Affairs Unit, Maritime lawyers, NYPD Crime Prevention and Community Affairs Units, as well as agents from the FBI.
Instructors and speakers from each group were sent into classrooms to discuss their roles and professions with students in a series of three, 20-minute presentations.
“They get a chance to show a little bit about themselves and say, ‘Hey, you can do this, too,'” McGowan added.
Jon Kablack, a member of the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), spoke with a seventh-grade class and shared his own experiences and struggles as a high school student.
“You learn, in life, from your mistakes and how to fix them,” he said. “But as a community servant, I want to come and help you fix those now, so that you’re not held back later in life.”
Kablack also discussed the topic of graffiti with the students, an important issue that often involves the community’s youth. He explained the differences between true art and vandalism and urged the class to report such incidents.
Kablack also encouraged the students to complete their homework and maintain good grades so that they could gain admittance to a good high school and college, and eventually the career of their choice.
“You can do anything you want to do,” he said.
P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit addressed a sixth-grade class with a similar message of encouragement.
“If you set your goals, you could do anything,” he said. “Sometimes you have to work harder than other people to get to your goals, but you will get there.”
Sadler explained how the NYPD’s motto of “Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect” should be applied to life inside and out of the classroom.
“Be that guy or gal that chooses the right way,” he said. “That’s why I became a cop. I wanted to show people how to be that better person and to protect and serve those who can’t protect and serve themselves.”
McGowan hopes to plan a large event and celebration for next year’s 40th Law Day anniversary.
“I hope I’m saving lives and creating something,” he said. “Out of this, I got to help a lot of people.”