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Town Board Candidates Speak: Crime

Part four of five-part series: Morrow calls for restoration of town police department; Berland says crime perception needs changing.

In the most spirited debate of the recent Meet The Candidates Night forum, emotions ran high and opinions differed greatly between Town Board candidates when asked about plans to change the "negative image that's being perpetrated throughout the media and throughout the community" regarding crime in Huntington Station.

Interestingly, with all candidates agreeing that more enforcement is needed in speeches at the South Huntington Public Library Oct. 20 regarding crime, the NAACP forum moderator did not say there was a crime problem in Huntington Station — only the perception of one.

Ripping elected officials who he says have have not done enough to solve the crime problem, candidate Eugene Cook called for an increased number of police and a louder voice to get things changed.

"I heard Mr. Bellone and he had a lot of great things to say, but tell us how many more police officers would have been there, that was disappointing," said Cook, . "Yes, we have Shot Spotter, but I'm disappointed that we have to have it now. I believe it's our politicians that should have been up there screaming when there were shootings and violence going on saying enough was enough."

Cook said if elected Nov. 8 he will be "screaming for this community to get this work done."

In his most lively speech of the campaign, Huntington Bay Mayor Herb Morrow offered a bold plan to possibly restore a police department to the Town Huntington for more control over crime.

Morrow explained, that there are 10 towns in Suffolk County, five with police departments, and 32 villages, 17 with police departments.

"In 1962 the county charter changed and the Town of Huntington lost a police department," said Morrow, a Republican. "I'm all about trying and thinking about new ideas maybe we need to restore the Town of Huntington's police department. Maybe we need to take control of our own destiny."

Ripping what he called "political nonsense" from County Executive Steve Levy and the police department which has helped to cause crime to grow throughout the county and in Huntington, Morrow said maybe it's a "crazy idea," but it's time to come to the table with new ideas and stop talking abut the same "stuff" repeatedly.

"When you have a single police department, like the 17 villages and five towns do, you control everything," said Morrow. "You control code and you control all of the law enforcement."... "We keep talking about the same stuff over and over and over again and I think some of us need to come to the table think about and talk about new ideas."

Incumbent Town Board Democrat Glenda Jackson said she was opposed to the closing of the police annex in Huntington Station and will continue to push to get it reopened.

"I will certainly would look to advocate to look to the county and police department to reopen an annex here in Huntington Station," said Jackson.

Jackson said she will continue to try to enhance code enforcement which she said is something is something the town "can't do enough of." She said some current initiatives could be changed.

"Youth programs we have but they could be tweeked they could be expanded upon maybe we could look at what exactly what we are doing and try to revamp the system that we currently have," said Jackson. "So that's something that I would be open to do."

Democrat Susan Berland said the crime problem exists, but she criticized the media for not focusing more on the good kids of Huntington Station.

While taking some of the credit for the initiation of the Shot Spotter program, Berland noted that more police are "absolutely" needed and a new county executive "that is willing to put police where his mouth is" will be beneficial.

But what she wanted to focus on, Berland said, was perception.

"There are a lot of members of the media here and in all due respect I love you, you're fantastic, but why don't you concentrate on all of the good kids in Huntington Station?"

Warning that perception sometimes becomes the reality, she said more "positivity" is needed despite the existence of dangerous crime.

"Are there gangs in Huntington, yeah, said Berland. "Are some of the guys home grown? ... yeah. Are people getting shot? Unfortunately it's terrible. Are people coming from outside our town to do the shooting? Yes they are."

But Berland said there so many more kids who are "wonderful and fantastic" in Huntington Station who do good things and win awards.

"We give proclamations to kids all the time, said Berland. "And I hear, oh, you just want to show up for another photo op. You betcha! I'll show up for any single photo op for any kid in this town who has done something well to support the good things. Let's go forward with posivivity and show what a great place Huntington Station is an what a great town it is and maybe start changing the perception so that we can start concentarting on the positive."

Jerry Hannon November 02, 2011 at 01:49 AM
I'll let Kim D'ambrosio, whom I applaud along with David Livingstone for fully revealing who they are, defend her comments about Mr. Cook. They could well be a cheap shot unworthy of this discussion. But, as to Mr. Morow, whom I otherwise would applaud (as his volunteer service as a village official is nearly as commendable as other candidates volunteer service on any BOE), the idea of bringing back a local police force is fiscally irresponsible and just an excuse for failing in management responsibilities. If there is a problem with the SCPD then deal with it. Hold the County Executive responsible. Hold the County Legislators next responsible (after all, they can only affect the budget for SCPD, not run that body). But, this balkanization of local governmental units on LI is one of the reasons that our taxes are absurdely high. Why should there be 120+ school districts in Suffolk and Nassau counties? Why should there be multiple library districts, & fire districts, & village police departments, and local cops of all varieties; that is not efficient, and it is duplicative, fiscaly absurd, and irresponsible from a managerial perspective. While I am inclined to vote for Herb Moorow, because of his volunteer service in Huntington Bay, and inclined also to vote for Susan Berlan because she actually has a backbone and has shown independence on a number of occasions, I absolutely do not support Mr. Morrow's idea about bringing back a TOH police force.
2 Turn Tables November 02, 2011 at 02:04 AM
Jerry, I respect what you are saying but I grew up n a town with its own police force. The SCPD focuses on Macro crime. Shootings, stabbings etc... A local police force goes after micro/quality of life crime. By that I mean, people blowing through stop signs, teenage drinking in Hecksher Park, and loitering. Dealing with the SCPD is ex post facto. How do we deal? They still actively take cat naps at the firehouses, instead of patrolling. If their lack of enthusiasm for their job is so evident,nowhere they won't even work, what do we do? A fireman who works in Huntington tells me about these naps. Giuliani's broken window theory on crime is spot on. The SCPD doesn't care about broken windows. Thet deal with more serious crime n HS.
2 Turn Tables November 02, 2011 at 10:09 AM
And there you have it... "donate their salaries to the cause so that our quality of life can stay in tact." Spend spend spend, take take take. Don't worry if the funding is utilized efficiently. And since when did a "Community Activist" vote for a Republican? Spare me please.
Robert Desmond November 02, 2011 at 12:54 PM
@Jerry I share your opinion that the common sense approach of consolidating services on Long Island and remove the millions upon millions of wasted tax payer dollars on salaries, expenses not to mention the waste and fraud that slips through cracks. "Fiscally absurd" as you see is an understatement. What I do not understand is if you want these drastic changes it will require leadership. It will require politicians who have the ethical fiber in their being and the willingness to fight for drastic change. For what you want to occur politicians must be held accountable by the voter.Susan Berland has had 12 years to make changes and has failed. What reforms has she brought about? Her incompetence is so great that she voted for Avalon Bay (yes on the second vote) but this is after JAI was shut down and George Washington Elementary was packed with the overflow and where mobile class rooms were brought in at Woodhull to handle expand capacity due to the JAI closure. You might think that calling her incompetent is an attack but frankly I am being logical and honest. Her statements at the debate (focus on the good kids not crime) are consistent with your real world view because I have spoken with her at great length and she truly believes what she says. She defends the rights for illegal aliens to be here. What value does she provide the tax payer? Her way of governing can only have one effect and that is an erosion of the tax base.
Jerry Hannon November 02, 2011 at 10:25 PM
David, that sounds to me like a major management issue for whomever the County Executive will be. I'd rather see reductions in duplicative costs accompanied by rigorous management attention. After all, Suffolk has one of the most highly paid police forces in the greater Metropolitan NY area; find a way to weed out the dead wood, if they want to keep their very, very high salary and absurdly high pension. And, make COPE a bigger factor, with some top talent, if you want to deal with Stop sign violations and other lesser crimes; right now COPE is merely an afterthought, with lip service given to those kinds of infractions. So, I agree with your intent, but I fiscally disagree with how to achieve it.

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