As Suffolk police officials continue to ramp up crime prevention efforts in the most at-risk areas of Huntington Station, two local legislators have proposed new initiatives to help guarantee the safety of local residents.
Legis. Jon Cooper, D-Lloyd Harbor, and Legis. Lou D'Amaro, D-Huntington Station, are urging their colleagues on the Legislature's Ways & Means Committee to approve two resolutions pertaining to Huntington Station on Wednesday.
Cooper's resolution would locate a facility to house a police substation near the Jack Abrams School in Huntington Station which would be manned with light-duty police officers around the clock.
"This was part of this three-point plan that I had come up with for Huntington Station to deal with the uptake in crime in the area," Cooper said. "Crime takes place at night and over the weekends ... It would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – at least that's what I am proposing. There would be a real cop there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
D'Amaro's bill would create an electronic neighborhood watch program using the 25 security cameras presently owned by the Huntington Station Business Improvement District (BID).
"The Huntington Station BID security cameras have been essential in capturing key evidence that has led to the arrest and prosecution of several criminals," D'Amaro said. "It makes perfect sense to enhance their deterrent effect by capitalizing on the ability to stream the cameras' images on a live video feed that is accessible to the public via the Internet. Innovative programs such as this are being utilized with much success in different states across the country and are proving pivotal in creating an electronic neighborhood watch where residents can monitor their community at all times and report suspicious criminal behavior to the police."
Cooper's initiative would also use surveillance cameras. He has proposed that light-duty officers, who are fully trained police officers, but because of injury or illness, are temporarily unable to perform their regular assignments, would perform live monitoring of the cameras that have been placed throughout Huntington Station as part of his Safe Communities Initiative. A second proposal by Cooper would secure $60,000 in county funding to install an additional 15-20 cameras in high-crime areas of the town.
"Live monitoring of crime hot spots with surveillance cameras will make gang members and other criminals think twice before engaging in street crime and gun violence," Cooper said. "In addition, the presence of trained police officers 24/7 at the reopened police annex will deter crime and provide peace of mind to local residents."
If approved out of the committee, which D'Amaro chairs and Cooper vice chairs, these bills would come up for a final vote by the full Legislature at their Sept. 16 general meeting.
These new measures come on the heels of a host of other Suffolk County actions taken in response to recent criminal incidents.
"I think it's an absolute win-win," Cooper said. "By providing live monitoring, police officers will be able to respond that much more quickly to gang violence or other street crime. I think it will have tremendous deterrent value and would reduce crime. ... Once word spread to the gangs and other criminals that Huntington Station is being blanketed by surveillance cameras, and further that these cameras are being monitored by trained police officers, I think they would learn that Huntington Station is not a good place to commit a crime."
D'Amaro added, "This is an ongoing, concerted effort by all levels of government to push back against violence and revitalize Huntington Station. … It is a fight we will win."
The Legislature's Ways & Means Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Legislature Building in Hauppauge.