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Tim Sini

Nazi material, along with weapons were seized from a home in Mount Sinai last June. File photo from the SCPD

Centereach resident Edward Perkowski Jr. was found not guilty last month of all charges against him after he was indicted on illegal weapons possession following a raid at his former Mount Sinai home. During the raid, Nazi paraphernalia, drugs and cash were also seized.

Perkowski Jr., 34, was the focus of a major Suffolk police news conference last June, but in court, the case unraveled because the jury did not believe detective’s confidential informant. The informant, according to defense attorney Matt Tuohy, of Huntington, was Perkowski Jr.’s former girlfriend.

Edward Perkowski was acquitted last month of all charges. File photo from SCPD

“They made my guy look really, really bad, and he was innocent,” Tuohy said in a statement. “He really suffered.”

A Riverhead jury found Perkowski Jr. not guilty on all eight counts of criminal possession of a weapon, and one charge of criminal possession of a weapon. Other charges in the 14-count indictment were dropped three weeks before the trial began.

At the time, Police Commissioner Tim Sini said: “Today’s search warrant might have prevented a deadly, violent incident, like the one we recently saw in Orlando,” referring to the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Sini also said the house was “infected with a disease called hate.”

“They all called my family Nazis,” said Edward Perkowski Sr., a Vietnam veteran. “All of the lies started because my son dumped their ‘confidential informant.’ And the police only took the German stuff we collected from World War II, nothing Russian or Chinese or any other country. It bolstered their story. We’re collectors.”

Perkowski Jr. owns a registered online military surplus company, registered in Riverhead. The money, which was Perkowski Sr.’s workmen’s compensation funds, was returned to him.

“The jury said the police lied,” Perkowski Sr. said. “Everyone thought my son was a Nazi, and he wasn’t.”

From left, Bill Ferris, Tim Sini and Ray Perini are currently the three known candidates for Suffolk County district attorney. Photo on left from Ferris; file photo center; photo on right from Perini

Update: Bill Ferris dropped out of the race in July, there will be no primary to select a Republican candidate Sept. 12.

On the heels of Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota’s (D) decision to forgo a run at a fifth term this November, two Republicans and a Democrat, each longtime law enforcers, so far are publicly vying for the county’s top prosecutor job.

Spota, who assumed office in 2001, made his official announcement May 12, about a year after County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and several legislators called on him to resign from his position after playing a role in the promotion of former Suffolk County Chief of Police James Burke, who pleaded guilty in February 2016 to charges of a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

“I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

— Ray Perini

Accused of taking part in a police cover-up, which spurred on a federal investigation, Spota has been under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle for the last year. Spota shed light on his decision in an emailed statement through spokesman Robert Clifford.

“Be assured, this is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made and my final decision was only made recently,” he said. “The deciding factor though, is that life is too short (especially at my age) and it’s time to spend quality time with my wife, children and grandchildren (with 2 more on the way!).”

With Spota out of the race, the torch will be passed on to a newcomer, of which there are three known contenders eyeing the seat — Ray Perini (R), former chief and founder of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Narcotics Bureau; Bill Ferris (R), a Vietnam veteran and former assistant district attorney; and Tim Sini (D), current Suffolk County police commissioner —  according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Each of them, as well as any others who decide to throw their hat in the ring, are expected to file petitions between July 10 and July 13.

Perini, 69, a Huntington resident, who entered the race in January, said he’s been training his entire career to be district attorney and wants to “take politics out of the DA’s office.”

“At this point in my career, I don’t want anything else,” Perini said. “I don’t want to be county executive, I don’t want to be governor, I don’t want to be judge … I want to be the next DA because I can make this county safe again.”

A highly experienced criminal lawyer with an active practice in Islandia, Perini has 43 years of experience in the criminal justice system, 17 of which were spent as a prosecutor bouncing from Brooklyn to Suffolk County, where he started the Narcotics Bureau in 1976.

In 1989, he went on to work with federal and state police agencies, including Suffolk County Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and drug task forces. He served as co-chair of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association’s criminal law committee and is a past president of the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association.

“There is nothing I haven’t done in the criminal justice system,” Perini said. His major focuses if elected, he said, are gang violence and drug overdoses. “As a united front, working with the federal government, DEA, FBI and cops on the street, collectively, we can win this war [against drugs]. We need experience, this is what I’ve done, this is what I can do. All I care about is getting the job done.”

Perini ran unsuccessfully against Spota four years ago after the incumbent was cross-endorsed on all four party lines, for which Perini attacked Spota for not giving voters a choice at the polls.

“I wouldn’t accept a cross-endorsement,” the father of two said. “I want the voters to pick.”

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement.”

— Bill Ferris

Ferris, 70, a former Navy captain in the Vietnam war and Fordham Law School graduate from Southold, announced recently his intention to run against Perini, the choice of the Republican Party for the September primary.

“I want to restore the integrity and professionalism to the office, as well as faith in the judicial system and also in law enforcement,” Ferris, who served as prosecutor for 23 years under former Suffolk District Attorney Patrick Henry starting in 1978, said. “My background is clear and clean. I was in that office for 23 years and handled homicide, vehicular homicide, served on the Katie Beers [kidnapping] matter, tried a political corruption case against county sheriff Patrick Mahoney, served as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association recently, have taught young lawyers ethics and served on the Grievance Committee for Nassau and Suffolk for eight years.”

He said anyone who runs for the DA position has to have a clean record of integrity, accountability and professionalism, all of which the father of two said he has.

Among his biggest priority if elected, he said, is getting a handle on the gang situation that has left Suffolk residents feeling unsafe.

“I’ll protect the citizens, fight the gangs and give us back our good name,” Ferris said in a statement. “While I was in the DA office, we did have a gang unit, which was discounted under Mr. Spota … The DA’s office is in a critical position to bring in federal agency, state, and local police to put together a master plan to both investigate and prosecute gang members. Parents are afraid on a daily basis to send their kids to school and that should not happen in Suffolk County.”

Sini, 36, the youngest commissioner in the history of Suffolk County, announced his official run for the job on the same day Spota made his announcement, despite a claim in front of the county legislature in February 2016 before he was confirmed that he had no intentions of running for district attorney.

“[Tim Sini] stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

— David Kelley

“I think that when he said that he wouldn’t run, he meant what he said,” said David Kelley, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and chairman of Sini’s campaign. “Since then, a couple things have happened. Having the insight he does on the needs of the DA’s office and how the shape it’s in is so bad and such a disservice to the county, he could see that firsthand from his vantage point as commissioner from taking on difficult cases like MS-13, recognizing this office needs somebody who can be really good … he stepped up to the plate and I think that’s exactly what we need.”

Sini, who did not return multiple requests for comment through Kelley, has taken on the county’s gang violence and drug problem head-on in his short time in his position. He recently spoke before the U.S. Senate to outline the departments initiatives in tackling the county’s gang problem.

“If you take his commitments to public service and his professionalism, and put it together, he, by far, surpasses any of the other candidates and I think he’s exactly what the county needs,” Kelley said. “He’s a professional prosecutor, he’s spent a good part of his career in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, he’s clerked for a federal judge, he’s a highly skilled and highly trained lawyer and prosecutor, and he also knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in Suffolk County.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini testifies before the U.S. Senate committee May 24. Image from Department of Homeland Security website

By Kevin Redding

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini took his crusade against MS-13 gangs to Capitol Hill this morning, calling on the federal government to further join in the fight.

Sini testified May 24 before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in Washington D.C. regarding the impact of MS-13 gang activity on local communities in a hearing entitled “Border Insecurity: The Rise of MS-13 and Other Transnational Criminal Organizations.”

Despite historic reductions in crimes in Suffolk County since last year, Sini said, there’s been an increase in gang violence connected to MS-13.

According to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the committee, the mission of the hearing was “to highlight these problems within our government agency, within our government laws and procedures, to make the public aware [and] lay out a reality so we can actually enact public policy to combat it and keep this homeland safe.”

Suffolk County has gained national attention after high profile murder investigations connected to the gang and a visit from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) to speak on the topic earlier in May.

Sini, speaking alongside Det. Scott Conley of the Chelsea Police Gang Unit in Massachusetts and Chief J. Thomas Manger of Montgomery County Police in Maryland, outlined ways in which the federal government could assist local governments and better stamp out the escalation of gang activity. Some of Sini’s notable quotes from the testimony are below:

  • More federal prosecutors should be provided to arraign RICO cases, designed to combat organized crime in the United States, against Ms-13 gang members. “If the Suffolk County Police department could launch a pilot program in collaboration with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office whereby every MS-13 arrest could be screened for possible federal prosecution — taking dangerous individuals off our streets, and generate incentives for defendants who cooperate with law enforcement.”
  • Intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies throughout the country should be improved. “A singular database with information relating to identified MS-13 gang members would encourage multi-jurisdictional operations and allow departments to be more proactive in targeting MS-13 gang members in our communities.”
  • Additional funding for community-based gang prevention and intervention programs tied directly to the number of unaccompanied children from other countries, who are most susceptible to gang recruitment, in local communities.
  • Improvements should be made to the unaccompanied children program, including increased screening and monitoring of sponsors and post-placement services.

Since January 2016, Sini explained to committee members Johnson and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), out of the 45 homicides in Suffolk County, 17 of those are believed to be linked to MS-13 gangs and approximately 400 identified MS-13 gang members are active in the county.

The commissioner has rolled out aggressive gang eradication strategies within the police department since becoming commissioner in 2016 to target particular communities where the gang is most active, like Brentwood, and stamp out the activities of its members. The strategy has led to 200 MS-13 arrests, Sini said.

In March, in collaboration with the FBI’s Long Island Safe Streets Task Force, the department arrested four gang members tied to the killings of Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, Brentwood High School students beaten to death for “disrespecting the gang.” But, Sini said, it’s not enough.

“We recognize that our targeted enforcement and enhanced patrols will not alone lead to the eradication of gangs from our neighborhoods — MS-13 preys on our most vulnerable and if we do not provide the structure for these young people, MS-13 will,” Sini said.

The commissioner said the gang members in Suffolk County are predominantly male, between the ages 16 and 29, many of whom hold wage-paying jobs, differentiating themselves from other gangs.

“MS-13 often engages in violence for the sake of violence to increase notoriety of the gang and cause communities to fear the gang and its members,” Sini said.

File Photo

Kenneth Pellegrino was arrested after drugs, fireworks and weapons were seized from his Sound Beach home, following a search warrant executed by Suffolk County Police.

During the May 3 search, $7,000 worth of fireworks, 110 grams of heroin worth about $26,000, 75 grams of crack/cocaine worth approximately $4,500, 33 grams of marijuana and more than $1,800 in cash were found. A shotgun, digital scales, cell phones and drug packaging material were also seized.

Pellegrino, 42, was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, unlawfully dealing in fireworks and unlawfully storing fireworks.

“This is part of our enhanced narcotics strategy where we are cracking down on drug dealing in our communities,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said. “What’s important to note about this search warrant is that it began with calls to our 631-852-NARC line. We were able to get drugs off the street and a shotgun off the street that belonged to a drug dealer, and we were able to do that because of the assistance of the residents of Suffolk County.”

Pellegrino will be held overnight at the Seventh Precinct for arraignment at 1st District Court in Central Islip.

File Photo

Suffolk County Police and Nassau County Police arrested three people May 1 in connection with knifepoint robberies that have occurred in both counties since February.

Police said a man armed with a knife entered Carvel, located on New York Avenue in Huntington Station, and demanded money last night at approximately 9:40 p.m. The employee complied. The man and two other people who assisted him were arrested outside the store by Nassau County Police Robbery Squad and Suffolk County Police Major Case Unit who were conducting a joint investigation. Shane Cashmore, 30, Paul Drab, 26, of Levittown, and Julianna Pantaleone, 31, of Levittown, were arrested and charged with first-degree robbery for the Carvel incident.

Cashmore has been identified as the knifepoint robber in 17 additional robberies in Suffolk and Nassau Counties. He has been charged in Suffolk County with first-degree robberies for the following crimes:

  • The Barn, located on Hawkins Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma, April 30
  • Baskin Robbins, located on Sunrise Highway, Bohemia, April 19
  • Subway, located on Portion Road, Holbrook, April 18
  • The Barn, located on Belmont Ave., West Babylon, April 11
  • Carvel, located on Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma, April 1
  • Subway, located on Sunrise Highway, Copiague, March 20
  • Carvel, located at on Montauk Highway, Copiague, Feb. 13

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini praised the partnership that led to these arrests.

“These arrests are the result of excellent collaboration between the Suffolk and Nassau County Police Departments,” he said in a statement. “This type of collaboration involves intelligence sharing, daily conversations and meetings and leveraging resources that resulted in the closure of a major case. We are glad to bring this spree to an end.”

Cashmore, Drab and Pantaleone are scheduled to be arraigned today at 1st District Court in Central Islip. No attorney information was immediately available.

Police Commissioner Tim Sini and EMS Officer Jason Byron demonstrate how to administer Narcan. Photo by Kevin Redding.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini updated the community last week on the success of the department’s Ugly Truth program, a county-wide initiative designed to curb opioid use through community seminars that educate parents and teens, provide treatment options to help those in need of recovery, and shine a graphic light on what these drugs do to those who take them.

The commissioner and local officials took to West Islip Public Library Jan. 25 to champion the department’s Ugly Truth program.

“It’s very important that we recognize the problem, talk about the problem clearly and intelligently, and that we provide people with the tools necessary to get their lives back on track,” Sini said at the press conference that addressed what’s being done by the police to combat the county’s rising heroin and opiates problem.

Suffolk residents who attend the seminars also learn how to administer Narcan, the life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an overdose and helped save well over 200 lives in 2016.

“It’s very important that we recognize the problem, talk about the problem clearly and intelligently, and that we provide people with the tools necessary to get their lives back on track.”

— Tim Sini

Sini said the epidemic has climbed in the past year, with upwards of 346 fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2016 as opposed to more than 270 fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2015.

“We need to be invested in solving this problem…there’s no silver bullet here, we need to fight it on all fronts: on the law enforcement front, on the prevention front, on the treatment front, and recovery front,” Sini said.

Since the Ugly Truth program launched in March 2015, with an emergency medical services unit and the medical examiner’s office, 41 forums have been held with a total 3,500 participants. Nearly 700 attendees were between the ages 14 and 17; more than 3,000 have been trained to administer Narcan and 2,400 Narcan kits have been distributed.

A segment of the forum, “Operation: Medicine Cabinet,” teaches parents to make sure prescription drugs are properly disposed of to prevent their kids from rummaging through and finding anything that might be harmful. People in recovery who’ve experienced substance abuse disorders are also brought in to talk about how their addiction has affected their lives and those around them, and resources geared toward combatting addiction, including the Suffolk County Substance Abuse Hotline number, are made available.

The Suffolk County Police Department has also partnered with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and other organizations to help overdose victims get treatment.

After an overdose, the department gives the victim’s contact information to LICADD and other organizations, which then reach out to the victim about recovery options. In 2016, SCPD provided LICADD with information on 221 overdose victims; 59 of those victims were successfully contacted, and 26 of them were involved in treatment. According to officials these statistics are improving every year.

“If we don’t get personal, families suffer personally and that’s what the Ugly Truth is about,” SCPD Deputy Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis said. “It’s to be thought of as a personal relationship with members of the bureau, communities, parents and families to say ‘we know you’re suffering, you may not even know what to look for, but we can help you stop this as soon as possible.’”

Officials said nothing hits attendees — especially young ones — harder than when medical examiners and medical experts from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services show slides of some of the devastating physical effects of substance abuse. These graphic images include a side-by-side comparison of a normal heart to a yellowing deteriorated heart and frothing from the mouth and nose as a result of leaky blood vessels in the lung, both caused by opioid use.

“While these pictures are not for shock value, we are trying to scare them [teenagers] a little bit and show them some of the things we actually see in the medical examiner’s office,” Suffolk County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Caplan said. “I also want kids and families to know…it’s not just about the overdose; there are multiple other complications, diseases, and infections that can also be complications of addiction.”

“If we don’t get personal, families suffer personally and that’s what the Ugly Truth is about.”

— Risco Mention-Lewis

Sini and EMS Officer Jason Byron gave a brief demonstration of Narcan training that Ugly Truth program attendees receive. While the commissioner was quick to point out that Narcan doesn’t cure drug addiction and won’t wipe out the epidemic, he said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Each life we save with Narcan is a potential story of recovery,” he said. “It’s to be administered to the overdosing person as quickly as possible so they’re still alive when first responders arrive. If you administer Narcan, you must call 911 once the person is revived.”

Dr. Scott Coyne, chief police surgeon in the SCPD, has been instrumental in implementing Narcan in the department. He said he’s pleased with how successful it’s been so far.

“There’s just a dramatic number of people that are walking around now that would never have been walking around [without Narcan],” Coyne said. “Unfortunately there is a need for this. It’s a two-edged sword. It’s a great program, but it also points out the extent of the problem.”

The commissioner expressed optimism the prevention work of the program has been effective. Even though the county saw a record amount of deaths brought on by opioids in 2016, the average age of those overdosing is higher than it’s been in the past. He said it’s suggestive that the department’s awareness is getting through to young people.

“While the numbers don’t seem to be going down, there is that one silver lining,” Sini said. “This is a long-term investment that we need to be making. We’ve made a lot of progress on the treatment front. The next frontier has to be prevention and recovery. There has been a complete acceptance now that this is an epidemic that affects all communities, all races, and all demographics.”

Police Comissioner Tim Sini speaks at a press conference about the department’s success in 2016. Photo by Kevin Redding

“We are now safer than we have ever been before in Suffolk County and that’s because of the hard work of the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department,” Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced recently.

Sini reported on the final 2016 crime statistics at SCPD Headquarters Jan. 6, which showed the county ended the year with the lowest levels of crime ever recorded in the history of the department — with the exception of homicides.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) joined the commissioner in presenting the historic crime drop.

“Public safety is my top priority,” Bellone said. “I know I speak for everyone in Suffolk County when I say we are proud of the police, proud of the work they do every day for us, proud of the courage and bravery they demonstrate and proud that they’ve clearly made the county one of the safest places to live anywhere in our country. These statistics speak very clearly about the work they’ve been doing.”

Image by Victoria Espinoza.

According to Sini, who just wrapped up his first year as the youngest SCPD commissioner ever appointed, compared to crime stats in 2015, violent crime (rape, robbery and aggravated assault) decreased by 10.9 percent and property crime went down 5.2 percent, with an overall 5.7 percent reduction of total crime.
“We see the crime going down and enforcement going up and that’s, obviously, not an accident,” Sini said. “We are a problem-solving police department. When [we] came into office here, my leadership team and I made it clear we’re going to be focused on opiate addiction, firearms and gang violence, as well as traffic fatalities.”

Under Sini’s leadership, the SCPD launched several initiatives and utilized 21st century policing methodologies that gave way to precision policing, intelligence-led policing and community-based policing.
In tackling the opiate epidemic sweeping Suffolk the last few years, Sini re-engaged a partnership with federal law enforcement officers, including five detectives, to target high-level drug dealers active in the communities.

He also loaded up on staff in the department’s narcotics section to roll out a hotline (631-852-NARC) where residents can anonymously report drug dealings going in areas where they live and even get cash rewards for any tips that lead to arrests. So far, since launching the hotline, the department has received more than 1,300 tips from anonymous civilians.

In a previous interview with TBR News Media, Sini said the hotline has led to a 140 percent increase in the amount of search warrants issued by August; 400 drug dealers have been arrested; the police department has seized more than $1 million in drug money; and is on pace to confiscate more illegal firearms than ever before.

Additionally, SCPD has saved approximately 779 individuals using Narcan, the anti-opiate overdose antidote.
Narcotics search warrants alone have increased by 118.2 percent — 192 in 2016 compared to 88 in 2015.
Sini said there’s been an initiative in partnership with the Highway Patrol Unit to help reduce distracted driving, aggressive driving and speeding, educate the public about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving and reach out to municipalities in relation to improving conditions on the road.

This has also proved effective.

Image by Victoria Espinoza.

Suffolk has seen a decrease in motor vehicle crashes by 2.5 percent, motor vehicle crashes resulting in fatalities by 29.9 percent and pedestrian fatalities by 29.4 percent.

SCPD Chief Stuart Cameron said the reality of Suffolk today in regards to safety has long been dreamed about.

“Throughout my 33 years with SCPD, I’ve heard people wistfully referring to the olden days of yore where you could leave your doors unlocked and things were much safer … as statistics bear out, we’re living in those times right now,” the chief said. “Not that I’m encouraging anybody to leave their doors unlocked, but crime stats have truly never been better. And without the public, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve these results.”

While homicides have risen, with 34 recorded in 2016 compared to 25 in 2015, Sini said that number can be largely attributed to heavy MS13 gang activity in areas like Brentwood, for which aggressive strategies have been enforced by Sini to “decimate MS13 and these other gangs.”
“We collect intelligence of known gang members in the county, assign gang officers and gang enforcers to particular [communities], and we’ve seen a dramatic decline in crime and gang violence since the initiative,” he said.

Through Sini’s creation of what he calls the Firearms Suppression Team — a mix of officers and detectives who have worked to prevent gun-related violence — SCPD has had a 50.9 percent increase in illegal firearms seizures, 507 recovered in 2016 compared to 336 in 2015, as well as a 4.4 percent decrease in shooting incident and trigger pulls.

By taking away a criminal’s tool of the trade — firearms — the commissioner said “you can make a significant dent in violent crime.”

Despite the uptick in homicides, he said preventing them is a top priority.
“If you look at all the hamlets and overall crime reduction, we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished but we’re not complacent,” Sini said. “One homicide is one too many and we’re going to keep doing what we have to do to ensure the safety of Suffolk County residents.”

SCPD branch involves the community to help with tips for investigations and arrests

Drugs recovered thanks to tips from Crime Stoppers. File photo from SCPD

By Rebecca Anzel

During its 22-year partnership with the Suffolk County Police Department, Crime Stoppers has served as a way for residents to share tips about crime anonymously in their neighborhoods without fear of punishment, and has helped cut crime and aid myriad criminal investigations

The not-for-profit organization expanded its repertoire of resources to include a general tip line, 800-220-TIPS (8477); another tip hotline for information about drugs, 631-852-NARC (6272); a website and a number for text messaging. Since 1994, its 22,287 tips generated by community members helped solve 42 homicides, closed 1,688 active warrants and led to 2,154 arrests, as at October.

Crime Stoppers president Nick Amarr. Photo from Nick Amarr

For the organization’s work fighting crime and the heroin epidemic in Suffolk County, Crime Stoppers is one of Times Beacon Record News Media’s People of the Year for 2016.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said the organization is indispensable to the community.

“Crime Stoppers is a valuable asset and has created a great partnership with our police department to reduce crime in Suffolk County,” she said in an email. “They work diligently to coordinate information from the public and the media to solve crime and make arrests. I am proud to support Crime Stoppers and appreciate the dedication of the police officers and volunteers who keep our communities safe.”

The organization is staffed by unpaid volunteers, most of whom are former law enforcement or veterans. President Nick Amarr, a Marine and Crime Stoppers volunteer for 14 years, said the organization’s real value is in providing residents with a safe way to help law enforcement protect their communities.

“It gives the public a voice and an understanding of how important law enforcement is in keeping our freedom and protecting our children,” Amarr said. “That’s very important to me and everyone on our board.”

Amarr also said Crime Stoppers’ employees would not be able to continue the work they have been doing without the support of Police Commissioner Tim Sini, First Deputy Commissioner John Barry and Police Chief Stuart Cameron. Amarr has worked with four administrations and said this one strategically embraces Crime Stoppers as a partner and has done more in less than 12 months than he has seen accomplished in the past 10 years.

Members at a Patchogue benefit concert present Crime Stoppers with a large check representing donations received. File photo from SCPD

“We have reinvested in our partnership with Suffolk Crime Stoppers,” Sini said. “It’s a great, great, great way we’re able to engage with the public and we’ve done a lot of good for the communities.”

The 8-month-old narcotics tip line alone had led to a 140 percent increase in the amount of search warrants issued by August; hundreds of drug dealers have been arrested; the police department has seized a substantial amount of money; and is on pace to confiscate more illegal firearms than ever before, according to Sini.

For Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue founder and president, Dori Scofield, whose son Daniel died in 2011 from a heroin overdose, the work Crime Stoppers is doing to combat the county’s heroin epidemic is invaluable.

“The only way we’re going to combat this epidemic is by working together in different forces and stopping the drugs in Suffolk County and helping our youth that are already addicted and educating children and parents,” Scofield said. “This epidemic takes a village to combat and our police and the Crime Stoppers are an important part of that village.”

Crime Stoppers is funded completely by donations, which it uses exclusively for rewards for tips leading to an arrest. In July, the organization hosted a benefit concert at The Emporium in Patchogue, raising $58,000 in one night. Amarr said it will host another fundraiser at the same venue next year.

Mike DelGuidice at a concert fundraiser. File photo from Rebecca Anzel

Teri Kroll, chairperson of People United to Stop Heroin, part of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, spoke at the event in support of Crime Stoppers five months ago. Since then, she said she has heard that parents across Suffolk County call in information they hear from their children about drug dealers and unsavory activities in their communities.

“They’ve made a huge difference,” Kroll said. “The police department can’t fight all crime without any help and the Crime Stoppers being a liaison between the public and them is only a plus.”

Tracey Farrell, formerly Budd, a Rocky Point mother who lost her son Kevin to a heroin overdose in 2012, agrees the service Crime Stoppers provides is life saving to many kids.

“In the few months that it [NARC line] has been out, it has made a huge difference,” she said. “It’s nice that people see when they make a phone call, something is happening. I can’t say enough about how great this is.”

Farrell also said she thinks residents are less interested in the cash reward that comes after a reporting.

“I think they’re happy they have some place to report things going on in their own neighborhood,” she said. “[And Crime Stoppers] needs to keep getting information out there wherever they can.”

Superstar Beverage was closed following multiple violations and illegal activity. Photo by Kevin Redding

The Superstar Beverage building on Route 112 in Coram has been condemned as a result of illegal activity and safety issues.

Following an investigation, the alcohol distributor, a source of many complaints of drug and alcohol related activities, was cited with numerous State Liquor Authority violations, including sale to minors as well as licensing violations. The Town of Brookhaven building inspector and fire marshals condemned the location for fire code violations and for no Certificate of Compliance and no Certificate of Occupancy.

“You had prostitution here, drug dealing, the sale of alcohol to underage individuals — all of that poses significant public safety risks and degrades our quality of life here,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said. “We’re not going to stand for that.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said that the site has been a nuisance to the community for years.

“I have been continuously working with local community leaders, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Town of Brookhaven to collaborate on public safety and revitalization efforts,” Anker said. “It is important that we do everything in our power to support the Coram community and its local businesses to ensure that it remains economically viable.”

A notice is taped to the door of Superstar Beverage siting the condemnation of the building. Photo by Kevin Redding
A notice is taped to the door of Superstar Beverage siting the condemnation of the building. Photo by Kevin Redding

Residents rushed to social media to voice their support for the shutdown.

“This is amazing,” Eric Malmed wrote on Facebook. “This area was being turned into such a dump because of that place, and the shopping center across the street was so unsafe. Thank you.”

Others are afraid it won’t get rid of the problem.

“Do you think closing it down will get rid of drugs and prostitution in the area?” Robert Mindlin of Selden asked. “You are sadly mistaken.”

Tom Hoffman of Yaphank echoed his sentiment.

“Getting rid of the beer store won’t get rid of the problem,” he said. “They will migrate somewhere else within the county. It’s happened before and it will happen again. I cannot take away from the exceptional work of our county’s finest. I just hope relocating the problem does not create a larger one via conglomeration.”

To help cut off the problems though, Anker and Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) formed the Coram Plaza Revitalization Task Force in the spring in response to quality of life concerns from Coram residents. The task force is made up of many community stakeholders including elected officials from the state, county and town, the Suffolk County Police Department, the Department of Social Services, local civic leaders, property managers and representatives from not-for-profit organizations. The task force has coordinated revitalization efforts including homeless outreach efforts, increased security at the shopping center and the condemnation of Superstar Beverage.

“I would like to thank Commissioner Sini and the Town of Brookhaven on their collaboration, which they have brought to a higher level than we have seen before,” Calarco said. “They recognize that when we all work together, we can produce real effective change for our communities.”

He said local business owners in the Coram Plaza shopping center have said they’ve seen a marked improvement in security and the ability of their costumers to feel comfortable shopping in their stores, especially since the beverage center shut down.

Sini said he intends to keep it that way.

“Town, police and county officials are going to stand with the community, work together, and solve our public safety problems,” he said.

SCPD Commissioner Tim Sini speaks at Charting the Course. Photo by Kevin Redding

The Suffolk County Police Department wants to help small businesses thrive and stay safe.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, the Suffolk County Legislature brought its business forum “Charting the Course” to LaunchPad Huntington, where local business owners engaged with elected officials, key government agencies and neighboring business professionals in order to gain valuable information and address any challenges they might be facing.

Among the panel of speakers was SCPD Commissioner Timothy D. Sini, who said he hopes to establish a partnership between law enforcement and the private sector through a series of new programs and services. For businesses to do well in the community, he said, the community needs to be safe and people need to feel safe.

The department recently rolled out a program called SCPD Shield, which serves as a partnership between the police department and local businesses, community organizations, houses of worship and schools.

SCPD Shield is an information-sharing and civilian training program that narrows in on particular locations or individuals that might be causing issues in the community, in terms of crime or quality of life. For example, if there’s a specific location that’s been a hotbed for violence, the police department will then partner with the town and county to take an all-comprehensive approach to fix the problem directly.

An extension of NYPD Shield, this localized program trains businesses on how to reduce the likelihood of being victimized by street crime, terrorism and active shooter scenarios. It offers innovative training opportunities and information regarding crime patterns and trends in the area, with a large focus on what is undoubtedly a business’s worst nightmare: burglaries.

“We need to make sure that we’re constantly putting facts out there so that people are educated about what’s happening. If everyone has a stake in succeeding, everyone’s working towards a common goal.”
—Tim Sini

Sini encouraged all business owners in the room to go to the website, sign up and join the partnership. He said businesses are key when it comes to increasing public safety and enhancing quality of life.

“Businesses are the best partners for the police department because we all have a true stake in the safety of our community,” Sini said at the event. “We need to make sure that we’re constantly putting facts out there so that people are educated about what’s happening. If everyone has a stake in succeeding, everyone’s working towards a common goal.”

The police department will also be offering a variety of video surveillance services, one of which will plug a business’s security camera feed directly into their headquarters, so if there is an emergency situation, the department’s communications staff will be able to press a button and see exactly what’s happening at a given location, or in the vicinity of that location.

The police commissioner said sharing video surveillance will be critical when it comes to giving intelligence to officers responding to a scene and, of course, solving crimes quickly.

When it comes to video surveillance in general, Sini said that it’s important to have a setup that’s of good quality, a point that might seem obvious, but one that a lot of business owners overlook.

“Oftentimes, businesses will get very excited and say ‘I have video’ and we’ll look at the video, and the only thing we can tell is that, ‘yes, someone was in the store,’” he said. “We can’t tell what the person is doing, can’t tell the identity of the person or their race or gender because the video is so poor. So we can give tips as to what kinds of video surveillance to buy, and where to place it in your location.”

Robert Anthony Moore, director of security at Astoria Bank in Huntington and former police officer, expanded on the importance of practical security strategies.

“I want to talk about support activities because that’s really where you have the greatest personal impact and the greatest responsibility in what you can do and choose to do,” Moore said. “As business people, we have to ask … What is the problem that we’re facing?”

Moore said all criminals have three needs when it comes to committing their crimes; they need to be invisible, they need to be anonymous, and they need to see an opportunity to strike at a location.

Lighting inside a store is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce invisibility, in the daytime and especially at night. If a business owner can’t see into his or her business, they are increasing the invisibility of the bad guys and the risk that something could happen, said Moore.

When it comes to anonymity, he explained that if a criminal walks into a store and sees themselves on a big monitor upon entering, it considerably reduces the likelihood that they will try anything. According to Moore, it doesn’t even need to have a recording system attached to it to be effective. Just the fact that they see themselves has a deterring effect.

Sini ended by saying that he wants local businesses to be successful and safe.

“We think, at Suffolk County Police Department, the police should play a vital role in that process and objective.”