Conte: Community Leaders Must Come Together For Huntington Station
COMMUNITY LEADERS MUST RALLY AND COME TOGETHER AGAINST CRIME
Legislative Column by Assemblyman James D. Conte (10th Assembly District)
Today was a mixed day for my hometown of Huntington Station. I stood with other elected officials and community leaders and we all hailed the operational debut of ShotSpotter Flex Technology. ShotSpotter, for those who don’t know, is a system that uses acoustical sound waves to instantly triangulate and pinpoint the exact area where gunshots have been fired. It is now up and running in five communities throughout Suffolk County.
As a life long resident of Huntington Station, I welcome any new technological and innovative tools to help our police do their job. Yet, I feel that as a community we can and must do more to not only combat the root causes of gun violence but find new ways of eradicating the community eyesores that foster this activity.
Some of the gang violence we witness onLong Island is foreign-born and immigrates with the civilians who come looking for work and the American dream. Recently, however, much of what has occurred in my community is homegrown drug gang activity, populated and being committed by individuals known to school officials, parents and police.
Many residents of Huntington Station have been vigilant and outspoken about what needs to be done to combat drug and gang activity in our neighborhoods. They have advocated an aggressive campaign to enforce the laws on the books on every street and in every house throughout Huntington Station. Other residents, however, fear that they will be swept into any hard-fought campaign to enforce these laws and their fears have led our elected officials to create task forces and implement solutions such as cameras and ShotSpotter to combat crime.
It has been our elected officials who have refused to get their hands dirty and implement an aggressive crack down by code enforcement and enforce zero tolerance of criminal activity. Call it the broken window theory of code enforcement or the squeegee man theory of crime prevention. We know what works and what needs to be done. We need the political stomach to implement such a policy.
I recall taking my wife to a Broadway show in the 1980s and running as fast as we could to get out of the city and home to suburbia. Today,Times Square is more like Disney World. Rudy Guiliani took heat for cleaning that up, but New York City is safer now than before he implemented his strict policing policies.
I also recall my bike rides home from work at Burger Haven through the streets of Huntington Station, always being alert to my surroundings but never in fear for my life.
We closed a school because of fear. We installed cameras and gunshot spotters because of fear. We cannot nor should we live in fear. We must demand that our elected officials and the public servants who work for us now get their hands dirty. Coordinate a campaign to take back Huntington Station one house, one street, and one dealer at a time. Innocents may be hassled, landlords and their tenants may be inconvenienced but law-abiding Huntington Station residents would have nothing to fear and everything to gain.