Huntington residents are calling on their elected officials to change the way their Public Safety Department operates.
At a Dec. 8 town board meeting, residents said former Suffolk County Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, who is a consultant for the town department, is not necessary as the town’s connection to the 2nd Police Precinct to increase safety and control crime.
The Huntington Town Board hired Varrone as the town liaison to the police department in 2014 and gave a $50,000 budget to his company, Varron Solutions LLC, to provide consulting services and act as the town’s contact with the police, community leaders and social services agencies. The business was also required to assist in restructuring Public Safety to better protect and control crime in the Huntington Station community — the main reason the town hired Varrone.
But residents are saying Varrone isn’t essential to reducing crime.
According to Huntington Matters member Robert Rockelein, Varrone hasn’t been very active in his role to increase safety in the town.
“The Huntington Matters and the Huntington Matters Neighborhood Watch have not seen or heard of any policy, procedure or project initiated or influenced by Dominick Varrone over the last year,” Rockelein said during the meeting, speaking for the two civic groups.
He added that his organization attends meetings regarding safety in Huntington, but he has seen Varrone at only a handful of those meetings.
Other residents said the town doesn’t need Varrone at all.
“I think $50,000 a year for Dominick … we could spend $50,000 somewhere else,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident, said during the meeting. “We could spend it on our children, on a drug program or something like that.”
He also said 2nd Precinct Commanding Officer Christopher Hatton is doing a good enough job on his own when it comes to the town’s safety.
The town hired Varrone in November 2014, after a series of murders in Huntington Station and subsequent demands and fears from residents regarding security. Maggie Rosales, one of the victims, was stabbed to death in Huntington Station that October, a few blocks from her home.
Huntington Matters was also born out of that series of incidents, with the goal of facilitating better communication between the government, the community and the police.
Despite resident comments on Dec. 8, Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said Varrone works closely with police and other agencies to address safety concerns and crime in the area.
Councilman Eugene Cook (I) was the only board member to vote against extending Varrone’s contract into 2016. He said Varrone’s sparse appearances as the town’s liaison swayed his decision.
“I think Dominick is doing a good job, but he needs the presence,” Cook said in a phone interview. He added that safety within the town is important to him, and he planned to meet with Varrone to discuss improving his presence in the community.
Varrone did not return messages seeking comment.