70th Precinct cops of the month

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What two beat police officers thought was an aggravated harassment collar led to a confession and arrest of an alleged serial bank robber who held up 30 city banks.

It also culminated with Police Officers Hiram Riffas and Janet Pena receiving “Cop of the Month” certificates.

The event unfolded in August when Riffas and Pena responded to a call of harassment. When the two crime fighters arrived on the scene, they found a menacing perpetrator trying to get into the home of the mother to one of his children, recalled Pena.

“He was irrational and a little irate and we literally had to wrestle with him. He didn’t give up easily,” recalled Pena.

Pena said that in order to subdue the perpetrator, she had to mace him and that started a chain of events that led to a larger confession.

“He asked my partner to please wash his eyes out, then he would tell us everything,” said Pena.

Riffas said the duo found over $3,000 in his shoe, and he was in so much pain from the mace that the perpetrator was literally begging to have his eyes washed out.

“Once we washed his eyes out, he basically started running his mouth, and we took notes and kept on questioning him,” said Riffas.

Upon taking him back to the stationhouse, the two continued questioning the perpetrator, who confessed to 30 bank robberies.

The two proceeded to call the major case squad, who confirmed that the man they had arrested was wanted in connection of the robberies.

He was also wanted by the federal authorities and by authorities in Huston, Texas, said Pena.

It was the first “Cop of the Month” award for the police partners, who have both been on the force for about three years.

Pena, of Sheepshead Bay, said she started out as a public school safety officer, and after five years in that position she took the NYPD test.

“I was always interested in law enforcement. My favorite part is the adrenaline rush. You never know what you will get yourself into and it feels good helping out innocent people victimized by crime,” she said.

Riffas, of East New York, said being a police officer was a goal of his ever since high school.

Riffas stated that his favorite thing about being a police officer was “being able to go home and realize that I’ve done something good for the community. That I’ve taken someone off the streets and made the community a lot safer.”

Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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