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Suffolk County police Capt. Kevin Williams. Photo by Kyle Barr

A Suffolk police officer offered startling insight into threats of school violence within the Smithtown community.

Suffolk County Police Department Capt. Kevin Williams gave his first presentation of what is expected to be many to Town of Smithtown officials at their May 8 town board meeting. As the town’s new liaison to the 4th Precinct, he gave an overall picture of what threats police are dealing with at area schools and in the community.

Graphic showing the 4th Precincts business investigations and arrests in 60 days prior to May 8. Graphic by TBR News Media

Williams said that since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, police have seen an increase in school-related incidents within the areas of Commack, Hauppauge, Nesconset and Smithtown.

“If you’ve seen it in the media, there’s probably one a day, threats from students against the school stating they are going to do a Parkland-like shooting or Columbine-type thing,” he said.

Williams said the increased cases of threats of school violence are not unique to Smithtown but are occurring in other precincts across the county. He advised parents to make a point of talking with their children about what may be inappropriate things to say and how they can raise a red flag with police. All threats are taken seriously, according to Williams, and are fully investigated taking a “decent” amount of time.

Suffolk police have been reaching out to and engaging in conversation with those school districts who have chosen to hire armed guards, including Hauppauge School District, following the Florida shooting, according to Williams.

“One of the most important things we all agreed is the people they hire are ex-law enforcement,” he said. “Highly trained professionals who have been out there and dealt with dangerous situations like this.”

He indicated a second school district within the Town of Smithtown is considering hiring armed guards in the future. As this becomes more common, Williams said cops are working to make sure they can quickly and easily identify armed guards in case of an active shooter situation.

Opiod overdoses reported by the the 4th Precinct. Graphic by TBR News Media

In April, the police department reported violent crimes and drug overdoses were all heading in the right direction in the first quarter of 2018. This trend has continued over the past 30 days in Smithtown.

Williams reported drug overdoses due to opioid use, both fatal and nonfatal, have decreased by 25 percent compared to the same time period last year. He credited this to the agency’s 852-NARC (6272) hotline, which receives approximately 12 to 15 phone calls a month from residents providing tips on drug dealers and sales. The officer said the 4th Precinct’s narcotic detectives executed 14 search warrants in January alone and made numerous arrests.

Over the last month, Williams said robberies are down, with one in 2018 compared to four over the same period of time in 2017, as well as a decrease in residential burglaries. The biggest culprit of home invasions remains unsecured homes or buildings, he said.

“It’s summer and people want to leave their windows open, but a screen is not protection,” he warned.

One exception to the decrease in crime is in the area of commercial burglaries. In the past 30 days, there have been four instances compared to none during the same period of 2017, according to Williams. One recent case involved an individual who attempted to pry open the back door of St. Thomas More R.C. Church in Hauppauge.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Alex Petroski

Suffolk County is off to a safer start in 2018.

Graphic by TBR News Media

Violent crime, drug overdoses and fatal motor vehicle crashes are all trending in the right direction in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same time period last year, according to data announced April 4 by then Suffolk County Police Department Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron. Geraldine Hart, the county’s first female police commissioner, took the helm and officially began her tenure, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

Homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined, dropped almost 19 percent when comparing the first three months of 2018 to the same period in 2017, according to the department. During the first quarter of 2017, 17 people were injured or killed by gunfire in Suffolk County. Nine people have been injured or killed by gunfire in 2018 so far, representing a 47 percent decrease.

Drug overdoses during that time period have also dropped 42 percent, according to SCPD, citing a 25 percent increase in narcotics-related search warrants so far in 2018. During those searches, detectives arrested 155 people and seized 43 guns, police said. In 2018, 871 grams of heroin have been seized in Suffolk County and 3,732 grams of cocaine, representing 189 percent and 724 percent increases respectively compared to January through March 2017.

Graphic by TBR News Media

“The statistics in the first quarter of 2018 show impressive results which are reflective of the hard work done by the men and women of this department,” Cameron said, adding that the encouraging statistics also came despite a 17 percent reduction in overtime costs.

Bellone was complimentary of the police department in light of the announcement of the statistics.

“Once again, the hard work of the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department has led to the lowest levels of crime in recorded history,” he said in a statement. “Not only does this reaffirm that our crime-fighting strategies are working, we are doing this in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Graphic by TBR News Media

Despite the positive countywide signs related to violent crimes, the 6th Precinct is not yet enjoying such a trend in 2018. This year to date, 36 violent crimes have occurred, compared to 31 in 2017’s first quarter. Specifically, more aggravated assaults and robberies have been committed in 2018 than in 2017.

Cameron also touted a 25 percent first quarter decrease in fatal motor vehicle crashes and an 11 percent reduction in crashes resulting in injuries.

“These results reflect the department’s increased focus on traffic enforcement, the incorporation of an effective intelligence-driven model to traffic enforcement and the department’s new Alarm Management Program, which has freed up patrol time to allow for increased enforcement,” a press release from the department said.

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