Schaberger Was Responding to Domestic Violence Call
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BOROUGH HALL — It’s fairly unusual that a “Cop of the Year” award is given to someone who is deceased, but that’s what happened on Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the 84th Precinct Community Council at Borough Hall.
The honoree, whose award was accepted by his parents, was Alain Schaberger, an officer of the precinct who died in the line of duty last year. Last March, he and three other officers responded to a domestic violence call at a single-room occupancy building in Boerum Hill. There, a woman directed police to a nearby brownstone, the home of the ex-boyfriend who was threatening her.
Police arrested the man, identified as George Villanueva, who had a string of 28 arrests. But as they were leading him down the stairs outside the building, the suspect pushed Schaberger over a railing, causing him to fall 9 feet, say police. He was declared dead soon afterward. Villanueva was later charged with murder.
At the Tuesday meeting, Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo recalled Schaberger’s dedication to duty and to helping others, and said the incident is a reminder of the daily danger that police officers may face at any time. State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Councilman Steve Levin and a representative of Assemblywoman Joan Millman also presented honors to Schaberger’s family; and Levin mentioned that a bill has been introduced to the City Council to co-name the street in front of the 84th Precinct for the fallen cop.
Later, Michele Kirschbaum and Renee Wilson of the New York Peace Institute, a group that focuses on mediation, spoke before the council. In a pilot program, cops at the 84th and neighboring 76th precincts now often refer disputes to the nonprofit agency, which until recently was a division of Safe Horizon.
The two of them explained that their trained mediators handle disputes such as landlord-tenant disagreements, school-based conflicts, probation problems and others. About 75 percent of the disputes they mediate, they added, end in a resolution. In a reference to the incident that cost Schaberger his life, Kirschbaum said the group doesn’t handle domestic violence disputes, but instead refers them to the police.
In response to a question from the audience, Kirschbaum added that there is a basic difference between arbitration and mediation. Arbitration, she said, seeks to impose a court-mandated solution thought up by an arbitrator on two parties. By contrast, she said, mediation encourages the parties involved to come to a solution themselves.