Detectives, teachers among Brooklyn’s latest heroes
by Benjamin Fang
Sep 26, 2018 | 4203 views | 0 0 comments | 119 119 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Standing alongside her colleagues from the Brooklyn Special Victims Division, Detective Kimberly Marshall accepted the honor of Brooklyn’s “Hero of the Month” for September last Thursday at Borough Hall.

Marshall, who helped solve a horrific rape case earlier this month, was among several Brooklynites who were recognized for their good deeds. The ceremony was part of Borough President Eric Adams’s tradition of honoring everyday people committing heroic acts.

“It’s very nice to be recognized for the work that we do in this office. It’s not one detective that does this work, it’s a team of us,” she said. “There’s a lot of passion, a lot of dedication and hard work that goes into these cases.”

Marshall helped track down and arrest 18-year-old Julio Ayala, who was charged with raping an 11-year-old girl in her Prospect Lefferts Gardens apartment. The detective worked closely with her team and the community, cracking the case in less than 60 hours.

She noted that the details of this particular case, a child finding a stranger in her bed and screaming out for parents, was “crazy.”

“It’s every family’s worst nightmare to have something like this happen,” Marshall said. “The facts of this case were something out of a movie.”

She credited the community with assisting the police department, cooperating throughout the investigation, and helping to solve an especially difficult case.

“This is somebody who didn’t have any roots here, who’s never been arrested here before,” she said. “This was somebody, for us, who was off the grid, who you couldn’t find in a computer system.”

Though she doesn’t like the attention, Marshall said she’s proud to represent her Special Victims squad and the work they put in daily.

“These are extraordinary cases, and it’s very difficult work, on an emotional level, on a physical level and even on a personal level,” she said. “The support that we require from our families and friends –– the days off, the missed holidays –– it is really wonderful that we’re being honored today.”

The borough president added that nothing is more intrusive and horrifying than having someone break into and violate your home and your child.

“A case as horrific as this, I don’t think any parent could sit back and relax as long as this person was on the street,” he said. “It does not go unnoticed.”

May’s hero of the month was Garry Danilov, a Brighton Beach resident whose actions saved lives after a car crash in Sheepshead Bay in June. Danilov, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, broke a window and pulled victims out of their car.

He was also honored by Community Board 15 and the 61st Precinct Community Council for his bravery.

K.M. DiColandrea, a teacher at Achievement First Brooklyn High School in Crown Heights, was the June hero of the month. DiColandrea formed the school’s speech and debate team seven years ago, growing it into a 60-student group.

In June, the team competed in a national tournament, where two members reached the quarterfinals.

DiColandrea, a lifelong resident of New York City, said the honor recognizes the hard work of the students, and the impact speech and debate has on closing the achievement gap.

“The reason why it matters so much is not just because kids learn the technical skills of how to debate or write speeches,” DiColandrea said. “Kids learn the qualitative skills of being confident when you walk in front of a space. And particularly, in the case of my students, when you walk in front of a space where people don’t look like you.”

All members of the debate team are students of color, and many come from low-income and immigrant backgrounds.

“They learn to not be scared, they learn to be completely confident,” DiColandrea said. “They learn that their voice belongs in all of those spaces.”

Adams also honored a central Brooklyn teacher for July. Bijoun Eric Jordan, a teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy VII in Brownsville, was honored for starting an International Club at his school.

Last year, he raised $42,000 to take 10 students to visit Barcelona and Madrid in Spain. This year, he raised more than $60,000 to take 17 students to Japan.

“Students who are all from low-income families and children of color,” Adams said, “to provide incredible opportunities to do something most students of color do not get to do during their education.”

The final award, for August, went to the Food Bank for New York, which has been collecting feminine hygiene products at Borough Hall to support women in need.

In accepting his award, which he called a “pleasant surprise,” Jordan said it felt like he was about to be selected for the Hunger Games.

“I’m a teacher, so we don’t do this stuff for the awards,” he said. “All that our children really need is opportunity.”
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