QUEENS — A police officer assigned to patrol Forest Park after a string of violent incidents there was named "Cop of the Month" for catching a number of graffiti vandals, including two she brought down after a foot chase, police officials said.
On March 23, Diana Kaouris, 26, of the 102nd Precinct, was patrolling the area around the park at approximately 2 p.m. when she spotted three suspects writing graffiti near Park Lane South and 112th Street, underneath a Long Island Rail Road overpass, police said.
When the suspects saw Kaouris, they dropped the spray paint cans they were holding and started to run.
“They ran all the way down Park Lane South,” Kaouris said at a 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night. Kaouris added that as she chased them, she "was yelling over the radio for help.”
Eventually, she said, she arrested a man and a woman — 24-year-old Jesus Ticas, who had several prior arrests, including for graffiti, and Shantel Mercado, 20.
Kaouris later found eight spray cans near the overpass, according to the criminal complaint.
The officers often patrol the park as a team during the week, but sometimes patrol the park alone.
As they walk and bike around the area, they also address numerous quality of life issues in the park, such as drinking alcohol and graffiti, said Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner, Commanding Officer of the 102nd Precinct, which covers Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven.
“I believe this it’s her eighth graffiti arrest this year,” said Sautner, who presented Kaouris with the award. “[Graffiti is] a huge problem over here and it’s a very difficult arrest to make live,” he said referring to catching suspects in the act.
He also praised Kaouris for documenting various tags in the area and sending them into a Police Department graffiti database.
A lawyer for Ticas did not immediately respond to a call for comment. Information could not immediately be found about Mercado's lawyer.