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Police

By Kyle Barr

Shoreham-Wading River school district is asking students and staff to become the eyes and ears of the school with the introduction of the anonymous Report It app as part of the district’s increasing focus on school security.

Report It app draft of anonymous report questions.

“Last fall we started to look at different ways that students could report any safety or security issues they may have where they weren’t comfortable reporting in a regular venue,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said. “This was an anonymous way to let us know if there was something they know or to give us some advance notice of something that may be emerging.”

The Report It app allows students, teachers, staff or community members who access the website or download the app to anonymously report on any activity they think is suspicious to the school, whether its security or drugs related or even involving social media and cyberbullying.

Alan Meinster, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment said at an April 18 board of education meeting each of the four district principals and administration will receive the tips and are responsible for checking up on any reports. The information in the report will then be monitored by the district main office.

“There are protocols they have to do involving investigating any information that is receive — all the principals will always follow the standard protocol, and part of that protocol is consulting with district administration,” Meinster said at the meeting.

The reports are monitored during regular school hours.

The app has been active in the district for approximately a month, but Poole said the district has yet to see any reports that have required action. Though Poole admitted that since reporting is anonymous there is potential for false reports, he believes students and staff understand the purpose and gravity of what this app means for the school.

“This was an anonymous way to let us know if there was something they know is emerging to give us some advance notice.”

— Gerard Poole

“We had a high school assembly where we were telling students how to use the app and what it was for, and I think the students took it very seriously as an option for them,” Poole said. “We haven’t had any false reports yet, and while there is potential for false reports it wasn’t enough of a concern for us not to implement it.”

Poole said that the school is not liable if they do not take action on any specific report.

The app is part of the district’s See It, Say It, Report It campaign to get students and staff active in being mindful of school safety. The app joins other security features that the district has implemented this year such as a visitor management system in all district buildings that scans licenses and prints out a tag with a person’s destination and photo. The district has also hired two more security guards for large gatherings as well arrival and dismissal during the school day.

The district is planning to implement more security features over the summer. Poole said the goal is for students to come back next year to new security vestibules and a student ID swipe-in system at the high school and Albert G. Prodell Middle School. The security features will be built with funds from the ongoing bond project.

“If you are going to encourage a student to come forward, which is not an easy thing to do, you have to provide mechanisms that are conducive to the culture.”

— Anthony Lavalle

Anthony Lavalle, executive director of Sayville-based Report It Inc., said that the app was designed for use in today’s technological age.

“If you are going to encourage a student to come forward, which is not an easy thing to do, you have to provide mechanisms that are conducive to the culture,” Lavalle said. “Even today if you think about it, a school shooting in Texas, school shooting in Florida, the concept is that students potentially know about these types of things, but they do not communicate them because of fear of some sort of retribution or retaliation.”

After the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, shooting, Lavalle said he’s seen a lot more interest from local schools in Report It as a means of enhancing security. A number of school districts on Long Island, including Half Hollow Hills, Plainedge, Lynbrook, Port Washington and Malverne have also signed on to using the app.

The application is web-based, but there is also an option for users to download it to their phone. Each school building’s webpage has a link that sends it to that specific building’s Report It page.

If logging into the app from the website, users will have to input five digits for reporting for Shoreham-Wading River schools. The code starts with “SWR,” with the last two letters being the school the user is sending it to, which are “HS” for the high school, “MS” for Albert G. Prodell Middle School, “MA” for Miller Avenue Elementary and “WR” for Wading River Elementary School.

School officials urge that if the report is an emergency, to immediately call 911 or contact emergency services.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County police 4th Precinct crime section officers are investigating an incident during which a man allegedly asked a juvenile to expose himself.

A 16-year-old boy was jogging in Lake Grove April 13 at around 10 a.m. when a man driving a white refrigerated box truck started following the boy and allegedly asked him to expose himself. The teen refused and the driver left.

The man was described as white, had read hair and in his mid-30s. He was missing teeth. The truck had a flower logo on the cab doors.

Anyone with information is asked to call 4th Precinct crime section at 631-854-8426 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

Huntington High School. File Photo

Suffolk County police have confirmed that a dead man was found on the grounds of Huntington High School on Monday afternoon.

Suffolk homicide detectives and crime scene vans were spotted on the periphery of the district’s property off Oakwood Road. Police have not released the identity of the adult male, but confirmed the death appears to be noncriminal at this time.

James Polansky, superintendent of Huntington school district, said no students, staff or school community members are in any way involved in the incident.

“There was never any concern regarding student or staff safety,” Polansky said.

The superintendent said upon hearing of the discovery he headed out to the join police officers at the site for several hours and confirm what facts could be ascertained. The district is fully cooperating with police investigations, Polansky said.

“It’s an unfortunate incident and equally unfortunately it happened on school grounds,” he said. 

This post will be updated as more information becomes available. Last updated 5:50 p.m. March 19. 

 

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John Scrofani Jr. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a Bohemia man Jan. 21 for allegedly robbing TD Bank in Smithtown.

John Scrofani Jr. entered TD Bank at 714 Route 347 at 10:57 a.m. Sunday and presented a note to a teller demanding cash. The teller complied and Scrofani Jr. fled. Fourth Precinct officers responded and located him in a vehicle on Route 347 at Brooksite Drive in Smithtown a short time later.

Major Case Unit detectives charged Scrofani Jr., 31, with third-degree robbery. He was  held overnight at the 4th Precinct and arraigned on Jan. 22 at First District Court in Central Islip.

File photo

Suffolk County 1st Squad detectives are investigating an incident where a Huntington Station woman was shot during a domestic situation in East Farmingdale. Her boyfriend later shot himself at the same location after standoff with police.

Police said a 37-year-old Huntington Station woman was transported to Huntington Hospital where she was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds at approximately 3 p.m. Jan. 8. Before the incident, the woman said she met her boyfriend at a parking lot located on New Highway, near Smith Street in East Farmingdale. Both individuals were in the female’s vehicle when the man, who was in possession of a handgun, allegedly threatened to harm himself. The woman attempted to gain possession of the weapon when a shot was fired. The woman was struck by the bullet in her right hand and right hip. The man exited her vehicle and got into his vehicle, that was also parked at that location., according to police The woman fled and went to Huntington Hospital.

While at the hospital, the woman notified police officers that her 22-year-old boyfriend was threatening to injure himself, according to police. Officers located the man, who was in possession of a handgun, in his vehicle that was still located in the parking lot on New Highway at approximately 4:20 p.m.  The man barricaded himself within his vehicle, police said. Police officers locked down the surrounding area and closed nearby streets. Members from the Suffolk County Police Hostage Negotiation Team and Emergency Service Section officers responded. At approximately 8 p.m., after a nearly four-hour standoff with police, the man exited his vehicle then shot himself in his right shoulder. He was then taken into custody and was transported by East Farmingdale Fire Department to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where he was listed in stable condition.

Franco Pinan-Solorzano, of Copiague, was charged with second-degree Assault 2nd Degree and criminal possession of a weapon. The investigation is continuing.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police 7th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a 4-year-old girl.

Heather Lee and her daughter, Willow Lee, were walking westbound and crossing a parking lot entrance on the north side of Route 25 when they were struck by a Suffolk County Transit bus at approximately 6:55 p.m. The bus had been traveling eastbound on Route 25 when the bus driver made a left into a parking lot, located at 1175 Middle Country Road in Middle Island, when the crash occurred.

Lee, 27, and Willow, 4, of Shoreham, were both transported by Middle Island Rescue to Stony Brook University Hospital. Willow suffered head trauma and is in serious condition. The girl’s mother suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The bus driver, Thomas Lowitt, 63, of Islip, was not injured.

Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Safety Section officers responded and conducted a safety check on the bus. The investigation is ongoing.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a Bay Shore man Nov. 27 following a motor vehicle crash that killed one man and seriously injured two others in Hauppauge early this morning.

Fernando Ramirez Jr. was driving a 2008 Subaru eastbound on Express Drive South when his vehicle struck a 1997 Ford pickup at the service road’s intersection with Route 111 at approximately 3:20 a.m. The vehicles then collided with a 2004 Infiniti that was traveling northbound on Route 111.

An occupant of the Ford, Daniel Granados, 31, of Islip, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the office of the Suffolk County medical examiner. The registered owner of the Ford, Richard Fischer, 32, of Dix Hills, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the Infiniti, Anthony Bermudez, 26, of Brentwood, was transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore for treatment of minor injuries.

Ramirez Jr., 30, was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Ramirez was admitted to Southside Hospital for treatment of serious injuries and will be arraigned at a later date.

All three vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Fourth Squad at 631-854-8452.

File photo.
Ricardo Vargas’ mugshot. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a Coram man after he robbed a pizza shop delivery person at knifepoint in Port Jefferson Station Nov. 11.

Ricardo Vargas ordered food from Bella Maria Restaurant and Pizzeria in Coram to be delivered to King Street in Port Jefferson Station. He selected the delivery address at random. When the delivery person arrived, at approximately 9:40 p.m., Vargas, who had been waiting nearby, approached him, displayed a knife and demanded money. The delivery person complied, and Vargas fled on foot with cash and the food.

The victim, a 61-year-old man, called 911, and 6th Precinct Police officers, 6th Squad detectives, Aviation Section officers and Canine Section officers responded, and after searching the area, located and arrested Vargas on nearby Hewes Street at 11:30 p.m.

Vargas, 27, of Selden, was charged with first-degree robbery, as well as an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

Wendy Velasquez. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police 2nd squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to locate a Huntington Station teen who was reported missing last week.

Wendy Velasquez, 16, who was last seen at her residence in Huntington Station Oct. 10, was reported missing Oct. 12. She is Hispanic, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

Detectives do not suspect foul play.

The investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information to call 911 or contact the 2nd squad at 631-854-8252.

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers rescued a man who became stranded on a sailboat in the Long Island Sound Aug. 5.

Carlo Brita, 33, of Shoreham, launched a 22-foot Catalina sailboat out of Mount Sinai at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday. The craft encountered problems with high seas and winds and became completely disabled.

Suffolk County Police received a 911 call from a friend of Brita’s to report him missing at approximately 10:25 p.m. Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau and Aviation Section responded, and a police helicopter located the sailboat in the Long Island Sound north of Mount Sinai at approximately 11:20 p.m. Marine Bureau Officers George Schmidt and Terrence McGovern in Marine Delta reached the vessel at approximately 11:35 p.m. and pulled Brita aboard. Brita suffered no injuries and was transported safely ashore.

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