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NYPD

A new sign bears witness to the toll Sept. 11, 2001 continues to exact from South Huntington and the surrounding communities.

Town of Huntington officials unveiled a sign dedicating Iceland Drive as “NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way” in honor of a South Huntington resident who died of a 9/11-related illness. About 100 family members, friends and his former colleagues gathered for the Sept. 14 ceremony on what would have been his 56th birthday.

“Officer Natale dearly loved his family, friends, colleagues and community as the number of people gathered here to celebrate his life today shows the impact he made on all of us,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of his legacy.”

“The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of [Mark Natale’s] legacy.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Natale was a South Huntington native who graduated from Walt Whitman High School before joining the New York City Police Department in 1985. He was stationed with the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attacks. Natale guided dust-covered people fleeing lower Manhattan over the bridges into Brooklyn and onto ferries to New Jersey. In the days following the attacks, he stood guard at the gates surrounding ground zero.

Natale died May 4 of brain cancer at his South Huntington home, which was brought about by his exposure to the scene.

“We have not as a nation or region spent enough time honoring and remembering those people in the aftermath of 9/11 who went into harm’s way and paid the same exact supreme sacrifice with their lives as those who perished that day,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “Today, we proudly recognize Officer Mark Natale as a hero.”

This was the second ceremony Huntington town officials have hosted in as many months, dedicating a street in honor of first responders who have died of 9/11 related illnesses.

“The fact of the matter is that more uniformed and un-uniformed personnel who took part in the search, rescue and recovery operations that perish will surpass the number of people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) said. “We can never, ever repay people like Mark Natale for what they did that day, or in the weeks and months afterward.”

“When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

— Mayra Natale

Donnelly said the health care issues faced by 9/11 responders is of “epidemic proportions” and estimated one individual per week is dying as a result of their service following the attacks.

“[Mark Natale’s] battle and bravery he demonstrated after 9/11 also serves as a beacon of hope for those who continue to fight 9/11-related illnesses,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “By naming this street and showing his acts of bravery, he provides who to those who are still out there fighting.”

Natale’s wife, Mayra, thanked all those who attended the ceremony alongside the couple’s three children Dominick, Catherine and Lauren for honoring her husband’s memory along with one special request.

“We all lost a piece of our hearts when we lost Mark,” she said. “He will live on eternally in our good deeds and the love we share with one another. When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

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By Anthony Petriello

One of New York City’s finest is bringing a wealth of experience to Suffolk County.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office recently announced the hiring of Kevin Catalina, a 26-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, as Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.’s (D) new undersheriff, the department’s second in command.

Newly appointed Suffolk County Undersheriff Kevin Catalina. Photo from Suffolk County Sheriff’s office

As of Aug. 1, Catalina, 51, will get started in the position, joining current Undersheriff Steve Kuehhas, who was appointed to the post by Toulon’s predecessor Sheriff Vincent DeMarco (R) and will continue serving in that role. Catalina was born and raised in Sayville, graduated from Sayville High School, and has lived on Long Island his entire life.

Toulon spoke highly of Catalina, and said he is optimistic about the value he can add to the department.

“During my six months in office, I was searching for the very best talent to help me lead the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office into the future, and we are very fortunate that Kevin has accepted the position of undersheriff,” Toulon said in a statement.  He is a resident of Long Island and knows our communities well, but he also brings a high level of expertise from the NYPD that will help drive innovation and reduce crime in Suffolk County.”

Catalina has a vast and varied history with the NYPD, having served in many crucial positions, and including in the NYPD’s counter-terrorism and counter-gang initiatives. He is currently serving as the deputy chief and commanding officer of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau in the Operational and Analytical Section, which oversees all proactive counter-terrorism investigations in New York City.

He started with the NYPD in 1992. He was promoted to sergeant in 1998, and soon after was transferred to the Queens Gang Squad as a sergeant. He was then promoted two times within the Queens Gang Squad to lieutenant and then captain, where he served until 2005.

Catalina then transferred to Manhattan, where he was put in charge of an upper-Manhattan precinct covering public housing. He was later promoted once again to deputy inspector and was put in charge of Manhattan’s 32nd Precinct. After three years in charge of the 32nd, he was transferred and became the captain of the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, which covers Yankee Stadium and the surrounding area.

When NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was reinstated in 2014, Catalina was placed as the captain of the NYPD’s Citywide Gang Unit, where he oversaw more than 350 detectives, and developed and implemented all gang investigative and suppression strategies utilized throughout the city . According to the NYPD, he is recognized as a subject-matter expert in gang violence and crime reduction strategies, and pioneered an initiative in the South Bronx that resulted in a 40 percent reduction in shooting incidents.

“During my six months in office, I was searching for the very best talent to help me lead the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office into the future, and we are very fortunate that Kevin has accepted the position of undersheriff.”

— Errol Toulon Jr.

In 2016, Catalina was transferred to Manhattan North and became the executive officer, second in command, of all precincts above 59th Street. He then made his final transfer to commanding officer of the Operational and Analytical Section, where he will serve until July 31st.

Catalina said he was confident his experience in gang relations would be effective in dealing with the gang MS-13, one of the foremost concerns for law enforcement in Suffolk County currently.

“We really started to understand the gang issue around 2010 or 2011 and we saw a dramatic drop in violence,” he said. “We put together violence conspiracy cases using every possible bit of information we could get from social media, to jail calls and text messaging. We were able to prove conspiracies to commit violent acts, and once these kids realized they could actually get in trouble, the violence was seriously curtailed. MS-13 is no different than any other gang. People look at them like they’re this big bad organization, but ultimately they’re no different than the gangs we dealt with in New York City.”

Toulon said he was also optimistic about the success of the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, which he implemented a few months back prior to learning of Catalina’s interest in the undersheriff position. Toulon said he visited Washington D.C. to garner more funding for the program. Gang activity in Suffolk has become a topic of national discussion, thanks in large part to the light shone on it by President Donald Trump (R), including in a visit he made to the Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood in 2017.

“Gang recruitment usually starts at the middle school level, and that’s what the GREAT program is geared towards,” Toulon said. “We have deputy sheriffs and corrections officers that work with these kids in communities that are adversely affected by gangs, and I’m advocating for additional funding [for this program].”

Catalina’s addition, joining Kuehhas, will help round out the leadership in the sheriff’s office, according to Toulon.

“I was looking for another component because Steve Kuehhas, who will be remaining with me, has a strong legal background, and my background is in corrections, so adding Undersheriff Catalina with a strong police background brings a great asset to the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Smithtown May 25 to say goodbye to one of New York’s bravest who was taken too soon.

A funeral was held Friday for New York City Police officer John Martinez,  of Hauppauge, who was killed in an upstate car crash earlier this week. One lane of East Main Street was closed as a full police motorcade escorted Martinez’s body from Saint James Funeral Home to the funeral Mass celebrated at St. Patrick R.C. Church.

Martinez was killed in a single-car crash with fellow NYPD officer and Huntington Station resident Michael Colangelo, 31, a single-car crash May 20 in Shandaken. New York State police said Martinez was driving a 2018 Maserati southbound on Oliveria Road at approximately 11:23 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle, striking a large tree and flipping the car. The vehicle came to a stop on its roof.

Colangelo and Martinez were pronounced dead at the scene. A third passenger was transported to Albany Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to state police spokesman Trooper Steven Nevel.

Colangelo was a member of the NYPD’s canine unit who had married his sweetheart, Katherine Berger, earlier that day at the Full Moon Resort in the Hudson Valley. Martinez worked for the NYPD’s 84th Precinct’s detective squad.

The men had departed from Full Moon Resort, but their planned destination was not known, according to Nevel. He said the stretch of Oliveria Road is very rural, curves and has no street lighting. State police said based on skid marks left on the roadway that the vehicle was traveling well in excess of the posted 40 mph speed limit at the time of the accident.

“We don’t know the exact speed they were going at this time,” Nevel said. “We are looking to get that information from the black box of the Maserati.”

State police said they did not know if drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the deadly crash, but an investigation remains ongoing. An autopsy of the driver was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 21, but the
results would not be immediately available.

“We’ve interviewed several people at the wedding reception, and everyone was very distraught,” Nevel said.

Colangelo and his wife had planned to travel to Costa Rica for their honeymoon, according to their www.honeyfund.com site, which read, “We’ve lived together quite a while with all our pots and pans, and as we don’t need very many home goods we’ve got another plan. We know it’s not traditional, but it would be a lot of fun, to have some items on our wedding list that will help us catch some sun.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or has information on the events of May 20 is encouraged to contact the state police’s Catskill barracks Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 518-622-8600.

 

Huntington Station resident Michael Colangelo in uniform. Photo from Facebook

Two off-duty New York City police officers from Long Island were killed in an upstate car crash Sunday.

New York City Police Department said in a press statement Huntington Station resident Michael Colangelo, 31, and Hauppauge resident John Martinez, 39, were killed in a single-car crash May 20. Colangelo was assigned to the NYPD’s canine unit while Martinez worked in the 84th Precinct’s detective squad.

New York state police responded to reports of a fatal motor vehicle accident on Oliveria Road in Shandaken, New York at approximately 11:23 p.m. May 20. Police determined that Martinez was driving a 2018 Maserati when the vehicle left the roadway and struck a large tree, before flipping and coming to a stop on it’s roof. Both Colangelo, a passenger, and Martinez, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. A third passenger was transported to Albany Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Watch TBR News Media for more to come on this breaking news story.

Correction: Updated 2:38 p.m. May 21:  The NYPD officer killed is John Martinez, not James as first reported. 

Senator Chuck Schumer is taking wireless network companies to task for poor service in areas of Long Island. File photo by Elana Glowatz

The dangers of social media and overall Internet use for children will be the topic of conversation at a parent workshop at Miller Place High School on Tuesday night.

Thomas Grimes of NY Finest Speakers gives a speech. Photo from Grimes
Thomas Grimes of NY Finest Speakers gives a speech. Photo from Grimes

Retired NYPD detective Thomas Grimes will be the speaker at the event, which is open to all parents in the district, from elementary through high school.

“The goal of the parent Internet safety workshop is to understand potential life-threatening scenarios, social networking and how to protect your child from innocent behaviors that predators utilize to plan the perfect ambush,” a press release from the district about the event said.

Grimes was a 20-year veteran of the NYPD and now owns “NY Finest Speakers,” a company which was formed in 2007 and is made up of former detectives and a former secret service agent, according to their website. Those officials are “dedicated to educating and protecting today’s young people and their parents from threats posed by Internet usage and drug involvement,” the release said.

During his 20 years in the NYPD, Grimes spent time in various task forces focused on organized crime and drug trafficking.

A patrol wagon, c. 1905, used by the 145th Precinct in Brooklyn. Photo from LIM

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook recently welcomed a terrific new addition to its carriage collection: a police wagon used by the 145th Police Precinct to patrol the waterfront areas of Gowanus, Brooklyn, in the early 1900s.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, urban police departments used a variety of different types of vehicles: Black Marias and Paddy Wagons were used to transport prisoners, and had an enclosed space in the back, with padded interior walls. The New York City Police Department purchased its first such wagon in 1886 for $500.

This patrol wagon, c. 1905, was a little more versatile and facilitated the rapid movement of police officers to scenes of disorder or disaster. The wagon has two benches for patrolmen to sit in back and rides lower and faster for pursuit and quick response. Such wagons were used right into the early automobile era.

The wagon is a gift from the Museum of the City of New York, on view on MCNY’s first floor for many years, but has been off display for more than a decade. A transfer of ownership was made to the Long Island Museum due to storage space limitations. It will now be featured in the Long Island Museum’s Streets of New York gallery in the carriage museum, a great complement to the museum’s firefighting vehicles and other urban public-use vehicles in that space.

Located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook, the Long Island Museum is a Smithsonian affiliate, dedicated to American history and art with a Long Island connection. Along with the 40,000-square-foot carriage museum, the museum also features an art museum, Blacksmith Shop, Nassakeag Schoolhouse, c. 1877, Ploch-Williamson Barn, c. 1794,  a decoy gallery in the Visitors Center and an herb garden.

The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Regular admission is $10 per person, $7 for seniors and $5 for students ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 and museum members are free. For more information call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Police say incident is not criminal

A man in a New York Police Department jacket and two others in suits observe the brush next to North Country Road Middle School after a body was discovered there Monday morning. Photo by Barbara Donlon

Suffolk County police responded to a report of a dead body found in Miller Place within feet of the North Country Road Middle School early Monday morning.

Police did not provide any information on the body, which was found close to the building on Lower Rocky Point Road. Police described the incident as “noncriminal” in nature.

Cops received a call this morning reporting the discovery. The caller told police that the body was found just north of the school.

At 2:30 p.m. Monday, a man wearing a New York City Police Department jacket with a police patch was observed browsing the brush next to the school, flanked by other men dressed in suits.

No marked police vehicles were visible at the scene.

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