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6th Precinct

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Suffolk County Police arrested a man for driving while intoxicated after a crash that seriously injured a pedestrian in Coram Sept. 10.

Robert Slawinski’s mugshot. Photo from SCPD

Robert Slawinski was driving a 2010 Jeep Wrangler southbound on Old Town Road, near Hyson Way, when the vehicle struck Anthony Loiodici who was walking on the shoulder of the roadway at approximately 10:20 p.m. Slawinski fled the scene, but called 911 about an hour later to report hitting something on Old Town Road.

Loiodici, 48, of Medford, was transported by Selden Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition. Slawinski, and a passenger in the vehicle, Molly Toye, 31, of Oneonta, New York were not injured.

Sixth Squad detectives arrested Slawinski, 47, of Mastic, and charged him with driving while intoxicated. Slawinski was held overnight at the 6th Precinct. He is scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip today, Sept. 11.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477).

Peter Crawford. Photo form SCPD

About 60 underage people attended a party at a home on Dogwood Lane in Port Jefferson July 21, and some were observed drinking alcohol, according to Suffolk County Police. A 20-year-old resident of the home was arrested and charged with violating the Social Host Law.

Sixth Precinct Patrol officers responded to a complaint of a loud party at 112 Dogwood Lane at approximately 11:15 p.m. Friday, July 21. When police arrived, there were approximately 60 underage people at the residence, and underage drinking was observed.

Police arrested and charged the host, Peter Crawford, 20, with violating the Social Host Law. He was transported to the 6th Precinct, where he was released on bail. Crawford is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 9.  Attorney information for Crawford was not immediately available.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle with boys winners Chris Witherspoon, Josh Washington and Stephen Cartolano, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore and 6th Precinct Community Liaison Officer Will Zieman. Photo from Councilman LaValle

By Bill Landon

A three-on-three basketball tournament took center stage at the Centereach pool and park complex July 15.

In the second year of the Above the Rim tournament, sponsored by Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), boys and girls competed in separate sessions for a championship title.

With new courts, backboards and rims, and a new spray park, walking trail and pickleball courts, the park complex has undergone multiple renovations since LaValle took office four years ago.

Brianna LaValle, on right, leaps for the rim during the Above the Rim tournament at Centereach Pool’s park. Photo by Bill Landon

“I grew up about a mile from here, and I grew up playing basketball, so when I got elected to office we redid this whole facility,” the councilman said. “For me, growing up here, it’s a way to give back to the community. These are new courts and the message we wanted to get out was ‘hey, the courts are back and with the pool, the playground, the tennis and pickleball courts, there’s something for the whole family.”

The park property has a cellular telephone tower on its west side that the town parks department leases to wireless communications carriers. Until LaValle took office that revenue, almost $60,000 a year according to the councilman, went into the town’s general fund. But he changed that.

“One of the first resolutions I passed was to put that money back into this park, because it’s on the park’s property,” LaValle said. “So that’s how we redid the basketball courts, the walking trail and the spray park. It’s a beautiful facility. You don’t get many parks like this in any township let alone Brookhaven.”

The Middle Country Booster Club, the Middle Country Public Library, the Centereach Fire Department, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit and the Selden and Centereach civic associations attended the event.

The girls had the benefit of an overcast sky and cooler temperatures in the morning, where Kanesha Strider, Jacqueline Mannix and Brianna LaValle took home the title.

Kanesha Strider dribbles the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Strider, a Longwood junior and three-year varsity player, passed on another event to take part in the tournament.

“Basketball brings me here — I love basketball,” she said. “I could’ve went to a party today, but basketball is very important [to me]. This is a great opportunity and you don’t get stuff like this in Longwood.”

Mannix, a Sachem North junior who is on the varsity squad at her school, played in the tournament at the urging of someone else.

“It was my friend and teammate who convinced me to play today,” she said. “I played in last year’s tournament, too.”

North Babylon junior LaValle, the councilman’s niece, said she came out for the tournament for two reasons.

“It’s for the love of the game,” she said. “And I did this with my friends last year. We love to get out on the court. It’s cool that they made just a girls thing this year.”

The boys competed in the evening, where Centereach varsity boys basketball players stole the show. Senior Chris Witherspoon and juniors Josh Washington and Stephen Cartolano placed first.

“When you come down here on any day, you have kids running around, kids playing basketball, people swimming, seniors playing pickleball, so it’s a multi-dimensional park to say the least,” LaValle said. “There are so many things you can do in one place and the parents love to bring the kids down here, so it’s really a unique facility.”

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle with Above the Rim girls champions Jacqueline Mannix, Brianna LaValle and Kanesha Strider. Photo from Councilman LaValle

Suffolk County 6th Precinct's Community Liaison Officer Will Zieman talks to sisters Natalie and Katherine Byrnes at the Coffee with a Cop event in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Suffolk County police officers recently paid a lengthy visit to Park Avenue Plaza in Miller Place — not to make arrests, but to make friends.

Three members of the 6th Precinct mingled with residents of all ages at Crazy Crepe Cafe July 13 for “Coffee with a Cop,” a monthly initiative that gives police officers and community members a chance to meet one another, discuss concerns, or just share a coffee and some laughs.

Sisters Natalie and Katherine Byrnes received badge stickers after meeting with members of the 6th Precinct at the Coffee with a Cop event in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

Originally launched in 2011 in Hawthorne, California to better connect officers with the citizens they serve, the concept was adopted by each of Suffolk County’s precincts just over a year ago.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to approach the police in a nice, calm setting,” Community Oriented Police Officer Enforcement unit Sergeant Walter Langdon said. “Usually when we have interactions with the public it’s when dealing with something bad or stressful. [Coffee with a cop] is a way for them to see we’re not just here to arrest people, we’re here to help people and give them advice any way we can.”

Community Liaison Officer Will Zieman called the initiative a “homerun” for residents.

He said discussions with them ranged from suspicious activity in their neighborhoods, to the county’s heroin problem, to future employment with the police force.

“It’s a unique forum and it’s unconventional by prior standards in a sense because time isn’t always there for us to have that extended conversation with people,” Zieman said. “So here we can engage on a totally different level, and it’s really cool and we see incredible results from this.”

Suffolk County 6th Precinct’s Community Liaison Officer Will Zieman and Crime Section Officer Dena Miceli talk to residents about issues, concerns or anything else they’d like to talk about at a Coffee with a Cop event hosted by Crazy Crepes in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

With crayons and junior police badge stickers in hand, Zieman knelt at a table to chat with 7-year-olds Natalie and Katherine Byrnes, who asked him what it took to be a police officer.

“The most important thing right now is everything you do in school and how you behave and interact with people matters,” Zieman told the Miller Place elementary students. “School is super important, because they go back to your schoolwork, check report cards and want to know what kind of students you were, and if you pass that process, you can become a police officer.”

When Zieman gave them free passes for a police event at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Mount Sinai next month, the girls beamed.

“I thought it was awesome,” Natalie said with joy after meeting the officer.

Rocky Point resident Debbie Donovan, who wandered into the cafe for lunch with her kids not knowing about the event, said it was a great idea.

“I think people need to see the presence of the police and this takes away the distance, the fear, the intimidation and the stereotypes for both kids and adults.”

— Debbie Donovan

“I think people need to see the presence of the police and this takes away the distance, the fear, the intimidation and the stereotypes for both kids and adults,” said Donovan, who wanted to speak to the officers about escalating drug problems in her community.

“Unfortunately, Rocky Point is changing and not for the better, especially on a particular side of town,” Donovan said. “It’s hitting way too close to home. I do see police more visible than I recall growing up, which does provides a sense of security.”

Her 11-year-old daughter Rhiannon said she likes that the police interact with the community.

“To some people, cops are just, ‘you did this, so you’re going to jail,’ but cops here want people to enjoy themselves,” she said.

Sixth Precinct Crime Sections Officer Dena Miceli, a plainclothes cop who explained to Rhiannon and her brother Jake about daily tasks on the job, said it means a lot when kids show an interest.

“If we can make some kind of difference in their lives and be a positive role model, that’s really all that we can ask for,” Miceli said. “This is such a helpful thing not just for residents, but for us also.”

Suffolk County 6th Precinct’s Community Liaison Officer Will Zieman, Crime Section Officer Dena Miceli and COPE Sergeant Walter Langdon talk to kids, like Jake and Rhiannon Donovan about what cops do in the area. Photo by Kevin Redding

Zieman said through the initiative, the department aims to collaborate with any and all local businesses and elected officials within each precinct to try to expand community involvement as much as possible. When he reached out to Crazy Crepe Cafe on a whim, manager Nick Mauceri was immediately on board.

“We love getting involved with the community in any way and this is something different than we’ve ever done before,” Mauceri said. “The conversations and exchanges are so personable and relatable, it’s great to see.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) worked alongside the 6th Precinct to make the event happen.

“The best resource for our law enforcement are the residents and they need to understand the police are here to help them,” Anker said. “Communication ties the fibers in our community and this is a great way to encourage people to create a relationship with our police.”

The next “Coffee with a Cop” event will be held at Smith Haven Mall Aug. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. All ages are welcome. Visit www.facebook.com/SuffolkPD/ for more information.

Joseph Wilko. Photo from SCPD

A 25-year-old man from Medford was arrested at his home July 13 for his alleged involvement in a May 15 burglary in Port Jefferson and a June 27 burglary in Coram, the second of which resulted in a victim being shot multiple times, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. Following an investigation, 6th Squad detectives located the man, Joseph Wilko, at his home in Medford and placed him under arrest at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The first burglary occurred at an occupied home on Sheep Pasture Road in Port Jeff May 15 just before midnight. Three men entered the home, assaulted the homeowner, and stole money and a pickup truck, police said. The homeowner, a male, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

During the second burglary, a 24-year-old man was shot multiple times inside the victim’s apartment, located on Kiowa Court in Coram, at about 10 p.m. June 27. The victim was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Wilko was charged with two counts of first-degree burglary, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

The investigation is ongoing. The 6th Squad is seeking the public’s help in finding additional suspects in connection with the burglaries. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the 6th Squad at (631) 854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Wilko was held at the 6th Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip, July 14. Attorney information for Wilko was not immediately available.

Kids play with Nerf guns and dodgeballs with the local officers as part of Police Unity Night. Photo by Kevin Redding

Officers within the Suffolk County Police Department replaced their handguns and black shoes with Nerf blasters and orange “sky socks” Jan. 4 for a night of bouncy Nerf battles with local kids at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Mount Sinai.

When the officers and kids weren’t crouched behind inflatable bunkers dodging foam darts, together they dodged balls in “dodge-a-cop” matches, shot basketballs and leaped into a giant pit full of foam cubes.

Suffolk County 6th Precinct Crime Section Officer Anthony Napolitano prepares to hurl a dodgeball. Photo by Kevin Redding

SCPD’s young friends were even invited to sit in the front and back seats of the patrol cars, were shown how to turn on the sirens and lights and were allowed to use the car’s PA speaker.

Donned Police Unity Night, the event will take place the first Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. It started as a one-night dodgeball event over the summer by Sky Zone Director of Events Nicole Tumilowicz, as a way of showing support for SCPD and helping bridge the relationship between law enforcement and the people it serves.

It was such a big hit among the community, she said, she and her organization decided to host the event in collaboration with community liaison officers from the 3rd and 6th Precincts on a monthly basis in Mount Sinai. Events are also hosted with local police departments at the Sky Zone in Deer Park. Officers and their own children always jump for free, and each month the event will feature food donations from a different local business.

For $20, families poured into the popular indoor park for two hours of fun, community camaraderie and food — Brooklyn Bagels & Cafe of Rocky Point served sandwiches, bagels and cookies.

“This is our way of giving back and really getting involved,” Tumilowicz said. “We want to get the community together, have fun, increase police relations and give our guests a chance to interact with [the SCPD] on a different level and see them in a different light. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Sixth Precinct Community Liaison Officer Casey Hines, a former social worker who frequently speaks on public safety at local school districts, and has partnered with Sky Zone in training its staff on what to do in dangerous situations, said it’s important to her that the public isn’t intimidated and guarded when it comes to interacting with the police.

She wants people to know their names and see them as people they can go to for help.

“When these kids have a problem or they have somebody bullying them or they just need somebody to talk to, I want them to feel they can say ‘you know, I’m gonna call Casey about this and see what she says,’” Hines said. “It’s wonderful to be able to have a rapport with the community in a positive environment.”

Children goof around with cops outside Sky Zone in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

She’s also having fun.

“We’re jumping, and defenses are down [here],” she said. “The kids and parents know that we’re here to help them.”

Officer Todd Bradshaw, of the 6th Precinct’s Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit, echoed Hines’s feelings when reminiscing about the dodgeball event over the summer.

“I remember a few of the kids — one or two in particular — were really kind of nervous and taken aback by the fact that police were there playing dodgeball and bouncing with them,” he said. “But after a while, they saw us being goofy and loosening up, and then they felt comfortable smiling next to us and playing with us and then wailing dodgeballs at us. They realized we were approachable.”

Eufrasia Rodriguez, from Rocky Point, shared the Police Unity Night post on Facebook, and in doing so, wound up winning a free ticket for her son Justice, a 14-year-old boy with autism.

“I shared it because we have a charity called Justice 4 Autism and we figured this would be a great opportunity for kids to play with and meet the police,” Rodriguez said. “Justice was so excited to come and meet the police and jump. On our way here we heard police sirens and he was like ‘is that them?’”

Her son was quick to run up and take a picture with 6th Precinct Crime Section Officer Anthony Napolitano at the entrance.

“They’re all a bunch of good kids,” said Napolitano. “This means a lot to them; so hopefully it keeps them off the streets and inside.”

6th Precinct Community Liaison Officer Casey Hines talks to kids. Photo by Kevin Redding

Cameron Tyburski, a 12-year-old from Shoreham-Wading River Middle School, came to the event with some of his classmates.

“It’s great because there’s free food and I showed some of the cops how to do front flips,” Tyburski said.

“I feel protected,” Amanda Lahey, 12, said.

Kelly Riess, 12, whose dad is a cop, said this was her second time at one of the events.

“It’s really fun, and it’s great to go around and meet the cops and all the families,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea to do this.”

To end the night, in Sky Zone’s largest trampoline-covered arena, Hines and fellow officer Jennifer Mackey led their team of kids into a full-fledged Nerf war against Napolitano and his own group. Bouncing back and forth between trampolines, taking cover and loading up on foam darts in between shots, Hines’s “red team” took the victory.

“You can’t walk out of here without a huge smile on your face and feel awesome, it’s just great,” Hines said. “There’s nothing like having these little kids running up to you and being like ‘I shot you’ or ‘you got me … can you play again?’ It’s them just being real with us, and I love it.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker helped form a task force to increase quality of life concerns regarding the Coram Plaza. Photo from Sarah Anker

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), alongside Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), have formed the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force in response to quality of life concerns in Coram. The task force is made up of many stakeholders from the community, including elected officials from the state, county and town, local civic leaders, property managers, police and representatives from not-for-profit organizations.

Since Anker formed the task force last month, the community has seen improvements in safety and quality of life around the plaza. An increase in police patrol of the area has resulted in several arrests, and as suggested by the task force, store owners within the shopping plaza have increased their private security.

“Since the creation of the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force, the community has noticed a substantial difference in the quality of the Coram Plaza.”

—Sarah Anker

Anker has also worked with police officers from the 6th Precinct and the staff of Lighthouse Mission, a Bellport based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that exists to feed the hungry and help the homeless, to relocate its mobile food pantry to the Suffolk County Probation building on Middle Country Road.

“Since the creation of the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force, the community has noticed a substantial difference in the quality of the Coram Plaza,” Anker said. “Working with the property managers, Suffolk County Police, local elected officials and not-for-profit organizations has truly made a difference in the community. I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to improve the conditions of the plaza and to revitalize this important economic engine in Coram.”

In addition to increasing security around the plaza, Anker has also been working directly with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office and the New York State Department of Transportation to clean up a wooded parcel near the plaza.

Increasing visibility in the area may reduce the use of these woods as a camping area for displaced individuals. Suffolk County Department of Social Services, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, Hope House and Service for the Underserved will continue to provide assistance to these individuals. For more information, contact Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.

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