PARK SLOPE – For the seventh time since its inception in 2013, the 78th Precinct‘s “Police Officer of the Year” was awarded to an officer for outstanding contributions to the community (Park Slope/Prospect Park). On Sunday, April 7th, Pastor Richard Johnson of the Sixth Avenue Bible Baptist Church (97 Lincoln Place) honored Sergeant Natalie Breier of the Domestic Violence Unit, a 12-year veteran of the NYPD and the first female officer to receive the distinction.
Sergeant Breier, a Long Island native and a married mother of two young children, was visibly moved to receive the award in the presence of her family and colleagues from the 78th Precinct, including its commanding officer, Captain Jason Hagestad, who recommended Breier as this year’s recipient.
“I’m honored to be here and be acknowledged for doing something that I love,” said Breier, who from a very early age knew that she wanted to become a police officer.
Sergeant Breier knew that it was going to be a difficult assignment when she joined the 78th’s domestic violence unit two years ago. “We see and hear and deal with some pretty serious stuff. And especially now that I’m a mom, when I see stuff with kids, it’s tough. But I was up for the challenge,” she said.
The domestic violence unit not only handles cases and cares for victims of emotional, physical, and verbal abuse but also goes out at least twice a month to the Atlantic Terminal Mall, the library, or subway stations to hand out pamphlets and raise awareness of domestic violence. And in the age of social media, domestic violence is starting at a very young age. “You get these young kids, they are so involved in social media, so you get this jealous person. ‘Why does this person like your stuff? Why are they commenting that you’re beautiful?’ And it starts from there. That is not healthy,” Sergeant Breier pointed out.
Pastor Richard Johnson began giving out the award after officers from the 78th precinct came to his aid during a difficult time. In his speech he acknowledged the tireless work of the 78th Precinct and the NYPD, “How many times do they do things like that in the background, and there is never a thank you? There is never a recognition of all the times they step in and fill that gap and it just kind of goes unnoticed.”
While Pastor Johnson recognized that there is some bad press about the NYPD at times, he emphasized that members of his church want to be the kind of people who say, “thank you.”
Domestic violence includes verbal, emotional, economic, physical and sexual abuse, or stalking, and according to Sergeant Breier affects all socio-economic classes. An NYPD statistic from October 2018 shows that domestic violence investigations are up 4%.
If you or someone you know experiences domestic violence, please contact the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 621-HOPE or (800) 621-4673.