In 2009 Dormer Told Petrone To Get Serious About Code Enforcement
The letter below from former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer was sent to Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone on October 16, 2009. Dormer is no longer the Police Commissioner, the current Police Commissioner is Edward Webber. We originallly published this article on October 20, 2011.
In response to a shooting that occurred in September 2009, the county held a forum to address growing concerns of safety in Huntington Station. Frank Petrone, Mark Cuthbertson, Glenda Jackson, and Susan Berland did not show up to the forum. Stu Besen who was a councilperson at the time showed up to make a short statement and left. Frank Petrone attended the dedication of a ball field instead. The Town Board sent a letter to Police Commissioner Dormer expressing that they were annoyed by the lack of effort by the police.
The following is the Police Commissioner’s response.
The letter is dated October 16, 2009.
Supervisor Frank Petrone
Town of Huntington
100 Main Street
Huntington, NY 11743
Dear Supervisor Petrone:
I am deeply disturbed to have received a letter from you regarding the meeting that was conducted at the John Glenn High School regarding the problems related to Huntington Station – a meeting you did not even take the time to attend yourself.
This is obviously a very important issue for the community. While we know that you had to attend the grand opening of a ball field in the local area, that was no excuse for not taking some time during the evening to engage in this important dialogue with the community. Beyond that, we are extremely dismayed that you took the liberty of interpreting our comments in a manner that was without the benefit of your having heard the whole dialogue with the community for yourself.
As far as a plan to address the problems in Huntington Station, the county has acted promptly and forcefully. If you received the impression that there was going to be a mere walk through of officers for a few days only to leave thereafter, you are highly misinformed, which is understandable given that you did not take time to attend the meeting. The county executive was quite clear that we would indeed be willing to put in place a permanent relief point at the Jack Abrams School, but this is predicated on you first securing an agreement with the local ambulance company, from which the police would be leaving, and the school, which would have to accommodate this shift. Thus far you have failed to deliver on your promise to obtain these important details.
Secondly, it was clearly stated that we are having a long-term presence of our concentrated gang unit in the Huntington Station area. While previously we only had a handful of officers for the whole precinct in the gang unit (which by the way, was more than before our administration took office), we are now able to increase that effort significantly, due to the fact that there is now a combined unit of 20 officers.
Third, we have taken the immediate steps of transferring a number of officers from the Marine Bureau to the Second Precinct. They will remain there as long as they are not required for the Marine Bureau in the warmer summer months. At that time, however, we will be able to transfer officers out of our headquarters and other units to supplement patrols in the area.
We are disappointed that the town thus far has failed to fulfill its commitment to put in additional town police presence in this area. While in the past you had said that you would put personnel in the vicinity of the school as an additional deterrent, it is our understanding that all you have done is park an empty car nearby. This will not do if we are to have an effective partnership.
Additionally, it is imperative that the town begin to deal with the problem of overcrowded housing in the area. The illegal, overcrowded housing in the area creates a breeding ground for illicit activities. When the town looks the other way on these types of violations, it makes it that much more inviting for the criminal element to believe that the local authorities are not serious about enforcing their codes or their laws. This relates to the “broken window theory” that the county executive talked about. We are looking to blanket the area, not only with police presence, but also by issuing fines and violations to those on the lowest level. That cannot be done without an aggressive partnership with the town. We hope that we will see such a partnership in the future. (The Huntingtonian made the preceding paragraph bold for emphasis)
Let me conclude by noting that because of the reforms that we have implemented in the county over the last several years, there are now over 100 more officers on patrol than existed years ago. The Second Precinct has been the beneficiary of this, as the precinct has 10 more officers on patrol than existed in years past. This does not erase the fact that there have been problems elicited by the local community which we stand ready to address. This is best accomplished, however, not by finger pointing, but with cooperation. We implore you strongly to please make it a priority to appear at these future meetings and to work with us in enforcing local codes and beefing up the town code enforcement, as we do the same with our county police department, to ensure the people of this community that this problem is being addressed. Thank you for your consideration.
Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department