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Babes in Gangland

County Executive Steve Levy

Last night the Town of Huntington held it’s “We Work For You” Community Forum. It was a great opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for what our local government and police force undertakes on a daily basis and where our tax dollars go. Unfortunately, only a small number of residents showed.  It was held over at John Glen High School in  East Northport so perhaps most people who could have made it to JAI or Huntington High School could not get there. The ones that did show however, came with some pretty astute questions.

For the first forty-five minutes or so Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy went over an outline of the projects that the commissioners from different departments are working on and the ones that they have already completed. The commissioners priorities are as follows:

Keep taxes down

Economic growth

Reduce crime

Ensure the safety of county roadways

Preserve land

Clean waterways

Maintain Suffolk County’s historic landmarks

Mr. Levy explained that although many parts of the country are dealing with higher taxes and less public services, Suffolk county has been able to freeze or cut general fund taxes.  On the other hand, our school taxes will continue to rise.  We have a great school system here and that is what draws people to our community and helps to maintain our real estate value.  Mr. Levy is hoping to slow the rise of our school taxes by consolidating Suffolk’s thirty districts’ transportation, cafeteria items and printing bills into one so that it can be put out to bid for a discounted price.

After Mr. Levy went through each department’s outline one by one, and introduced break out sessions that would be held simultaneously throughout the building to address specific topics.  The majority of the audience stayed in the auditorium where  Mr. Levy and Suffolk county police commissioner Richard Dormer would be speaking along with members of the second precinct.

There are 140 more cops on patrol in Suffolk than five years ago

Seventy-two schools now have police patrol compared with only ten in 2003

There has been a creation of a gang task force of about twenty police officers who are currently focused on Huntington Station

The newly created task force has been in action for five weeks and has made fifty-two arrests

There are newly created Holiday foot patrols and special operation forces

Crime has been reduced in Suffolk County by 10.8% since 2003.

In spite of the progress  and decline in crime overall in the past five years outlined by Mr. Levy, crime in Huntington Station has actually been on an up tick in the last year.  Mr. Levy and Commisioner Dormer attribute this to the large amount of gangs and drug dealers (especially heroine dealers) taking up residence in Huntington Station.

Many residents were especially concerned with the area around Jack Abrams Intermediate School and the safety of the children.  It was referred to as a war zone by one gentleman who challenged Mr. Petrone’s office on their commitment to the revitalization of Huntington Station.  Mr. Petrone was not there to comment. Many people brought up the fact that there are many illegal aliens in the area who they feel are committing crimes and yet the police presence seems very low.  Officer Dormer responded that being an illegal immigrant is not a violation of the penal code and explained that enforcement of immigration policy is the responsibility of the INS and not the police dept.

Mr. Richard Wheland, a community member with a daughter in the high school said that he believed this to be untrue and cited a federal law 1324 as well as a New York Sate law #131 that successfully implemented in other counties.  Officer Dormer spoke with him in private after the meeting but believed that an officer had to be deputized by the Federal government to be able to arrest immigrants solely for being here illegally.

We heard from other local residents.  One tearful woman explained that she was Puerto Rican and respects her people but the drugs and gangs have gotten out of control and it needs to stop.She lives just two blocks from JAI school and she and her children witness drug deals right out in the open any time of day or night, on a daily basis. She said her son saw a naked man lying in the street on his way home from school this week.  Her children couldn’t play in their backyard because there was a fight among twenty gang members on her corner and all they got was slap on their wrist. Another woman said that her daughter watched three officers take down a man outside the school yesterday.  One parent spoke of the anxiety her child feels after having to go through lock downs at the school.  A mother asked if wouldn’t it be better to take the children out of harm’s way while they community tries to solve the extreme danger that has overtaken the area surrounding Jack Abrams and the rest of Huntington Station.  Mr. Levy said that he could not do anything about moving the school and it would have to be taken up with the superintendent and school board.

There have been two hundred reported crimes a month in Huntington Station for 2008.Here is a list of the few that happened in the immediate vicinity of JAI

List of Violent Crime in 2009

Crime                            Where                                    Date

Murder, Stabbing        Wes Rogues Path                    10/03/2009

Stabbing                     E. Pulaski Rd                           09/21/2009

Shooting                     One Tower Street                    09/01/2009

Home Invasion            Virginia Avenue                      08/28/2009

Attempted Murder       Winoka Apartments                 07/28/2009

Stabbing                     1044 New York Ave                  03/11/2009

Shooting                     Michael’s Deli Depot                02/20/2009

Murder/Stabbing        Bar on Broadway                     02/15/2009

Shooting                     Railroad & Lowndes Ave         02/10/2009

These are some scary facts. Mr. Steve Levy says he “sees what we are saying “and will do everything in his power to intervene and disable the violent criminals in the area. Huntington pays 24% of the Suffolk county police budget but does not get 24% of coverage or resources.A permanent gang task force in the area certainly would be very beneficial nonetheless ,it would prove too costly. Mr. Levy committed to hold many more of these question and answer types of meetings to take community input on improving the quality of life in Huntington Station.

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