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Tim Sini

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini speaks at an event in Huntington Station. File photo by Victoria Espinoza.
SCPD Police Comissioner Tim Sini listed facts like the ones above of officers curbing criminal levels in Huntington Station. Image by Victoria Espinoza
SCPD Police Commissioner Tim Sini listed facts like the ones above of officers curbing criminal levels in Huntington Station. Image by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Crime in Huntington Station is officially on the decline — and the Suffolk County Police Department has the numbers to prove it.

Law enforcement and town officials gathered at the 2nd Precinct Nov. 14 to update the community about decreasing crime in the area and efforts to help improve the quality of life for residents.

According to Sini, in the last 28-day period compared to the same 28-day period in 2015, violent crime decreased by 71.4 percent, and year-to-date, violent crime is down by 12.9 percent. Property crime is also down 11 percent year-to-date.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said intelligence-led policing and community policing are critical to their success in Huntington Station. He has focused on using crime and intelligence data to drive how the department allocates resources and develops strategies to make Huntington Station a safer place to live.

“It is impossible to achieve the results we’ve achieved without the true partnership of community members, local governments, county and state government,” Sini said at the press conference. “It’s very important we continue to collaborate to reduce crime and increase the overall quality of life for Huntington Station. We’re going to continue to be vigilant and fine-tune our community-led policing model.”

Sini said the statistics illustrate strides the department has made in the area.

“Those are significant numbers in isolation, but when you consider the fact that 2015 was a record low police districtwide, it’s very impressive,” Sini said.

Sini also stressed the importance of deploying enough county and state resources to Huntington Station to help curb crime.

“Me and my leadership team made a commitment to ensure that significant assets are deployed in the 2nd Precinct,” he said.

Assets include members of the Firearm Suppression Team, a mix of officers and detectives, who have worked to decrease gun-related violence, assets from the Highway Patrol Unit to increase traffic enforcement, members of the SAFE-T Team, which handles drunk driving enforcement, as well as additional foot and bike patrols in the area.

“This is a tremendous amount of work and a tremendous amount of resources put into this area,” Sini said. “It involved a lot of cooperation with our local officials, particularly at county, town and state level and of course engagement with the community.”

Sini said as a result of these additional assets from Aug. 8 to Nov. 12, there were 276 individuals arrested in Huntington Station, for a total of 398 charges. Greenlawn also has seen an impact from these efforts, with 25 arrests and 29 total charges. Nearly 1,500 tickets have been given out, 46 high-visibility checkpoints have been established — which helped lead to 10 arrests and 407 tickets. Ten targeted New York State liquor association inspections were carried out, which resulted in four arrests. The SAFE-T team alone responded on 41 occasions to the Huntington Station area for a total of 33 DWI arrests and five arrests for other charges.

Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said community members played a crucial role in the department’s success.

“Nothing would get done unless you collaborate,” Petrone said. “I think part of the reason that this is being done so well is because there is a community concern. There is community input. They are the eyes and the ears. They brought forth much information to us and the county. This is the only way we will really solve these problems.”

New York State Assemblyman Chad Luppinacci (R-Huntington Station) echoed Petrone’s statements.

“This is a very personal issue to myself, having been born and raised in Huntington Station,” he said. “I feel gratified that all the levels of government are working together. We also want to thank our businesses and civic associations who have been working along with us. We know Huntington Station is a great place to raise a family, for businesses to be welcome, and we want people to continue to feel safe.”

A North Shore resident locks his car before going into work. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

It may seem like a no-brainer, but according to the Suffolk County Police Department many North Shore residents are forgetting to lock their cars.

The department recently launched a new “Lock It or Lose It!” campaign aimed at encouraging residents to lock their parked vehicles.

Police Commissioner Tim Sini said the department is looking for the public’s help to bring down this type of petit crime.

“Every day, the hard-working men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department are out there in force doing their best to keep crime down,” he said in a statement. “Oftentimes, though, it is the partnership with the public that helps get us the results. The first line of defense is [to] lock your doors. Also, make sure if there are valuables in your car, they are not in plain view.”

Although it may seem simple, many Long Islanders are leaving their cars unlocked.

A periodic check of Suffolk County police reports will turn up dozens of incidents of items stolen out of unlocked cars parked in driveways, parking lots or other locations.

The department has partnered with Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and multiple television and radio stations to routinely broadcast a 30-second public service announcement during the next month to remind residents to lock their vehicles.

“Unlocked vehicles give criminals an additional bonus of stealing sensitive personal documents resulting in identity theft without a victim realizing the fact until it’s too late,” Crime Stoppers President Nick Amarr said in a statement. “The Lock it or Lose It campaign is a way to remind residents how they can help prevent becoming the victim of a crime.”

According to the department, most vehicle break-ins are crimes of opportunity, and if a vehicle is locked, a criminal will usually move on. Locking car doors should substantially decrease the likelihood of being victimized. Approximately 312 cars are targeted every month in Suffolk County, according to a statement from the police.

On the North Shore, cell phones, wallets, credit cards, cash, GPS, cell phone chargers, laptops and tablets are among the most common items taken when someone breaks into a car.

Campaigns just like Suffolk County’s are becoming the norm throughout the country, as police departments in many states try to remind residents they can help reduce crime in their neighborhoods.

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

Police are seeking the public’s help with information after Nazi paraphernalia and a bomb-making manual were found during a raid in Mount Sinai early Thursday.

At 6 a.m. on Miller Place Middle Island Road, just before it merges into Mt. Sinai-Coram Road and Miller Place Road, brothers Edward and Sean Perkowski were arrested after authorities executing a search warrant uncovered 10 assault rifles, a hand gun, high capacity magazines, a shotgun, a stun gun, more than $40,000 in cash, marijuana, illegal mushrooms, Nazi material and a manual on how to make bomb. The Nazi-related material included framed photos of Adolf Hitler, Nazi flags with swastikas and books on white supremacy.

Ten assault rifles, a hand gun, high capacity magazines, a shotgun and a stun gun were retrieved from a home in Mount Sinia. Photo from SCPD
Ten assault rifles, a hand gun, high capacity magazines, a shotgun and a stun gun were retrieved from a home in Mount Sinai. Photo from SCPD
Edward Perkowski mugshot from SCPD
Edward Perkowski mugshot from SCPD

Edward Perkowski, 29, currently faces drugs and weapon charges, and Sean, 25, was charged with an outstanding warrant.

“This was a public threat on multiple fronts,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said. “We have two individuals who clearly subscribe to a hateful, violent ideology, who had an illegal arsenal at their fingertips.”

Although unable to discuss the details of the case as the investigation is still ongoing, such as if an event to use the arsenal of weapons was planned, whether they’ve been cooperative or if they were working alone or as part of a group, Sini said the department is currently working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is made up of local police department and federal agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Today’s search warrant might have prevented a deadly, violent incident, like the one we recently saw in Orlando,” Sini said. “I have a message to the residents of Suffolk County: The Suffolk County Police Department will do everything in its power to ensure your safety. We can only do our job most effectively if we have your cooperation and your collaboration.”

A large binder containing hand-written and printout material on bomb building was found during the search warrant in Mount Sinai. Photo by Desirée Keegan
A large binder containing hand-written and printout material on bomb building was found during the search warrant in Mount Sinai. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he’s never seen such coordinated police activity in all his years as an elected official, in regard to going after drug dealers and those promoting hate. He said the latter is what is of the utmost importance in this given case.

“Obviously this was a drug house, but drugs were only part of the problem,” he said. “This was a house infected with that disease called hate, and we want to stop hate in this country. There’s enough of it, and we’ve seen what hate can do and how it can destroy and hurt our nation.”

John Leonard, a neighbor who has lived two houses down for 18 years, said there was a brawl out in front of the home a couple of months ago, and 911 was called. When he saw the public police report following the search warrant, he went to police headquarters to offer his help.

“I’ve never spoke to them, we keep our distance,” he said. “There’s four or five cars parked in front [of the house] at all times and constant cars coming in and out. I had my car broken into in the driveway about a year ago. My neighbors had the same thing. We found prescription medication laying out in the street a couple of months ago. It wasn’t too hard to figure out something is going on.”

What he said horrified him, though, was the large bomb-making manual found, which included hand-written and printed out material.

“That scares the hell out of me,” he said. “That takes it to a whole new level.”

Sini also said he is concerned.

“To think that this was in the Town of Brookhaven is extremely disturbing and the police department, the brave men and women of this department, will stop at nothing to neutralize threats like this,” he said.

Nazi and drug-related reading material were found inside a home in Mount Sinai. Photo from SCPD
Nazi and drug-related reading material were found inside a home in Mount Sinai. Photo from SCPD

While Sini cannot say what pointed the department in the direction of the home, the commissioner explained it took time to get probable cause to establish a case, and tips from residents have been instrumental in much of the police’s recent findings. He said more than 600 tips on drug homes and drug spots in local communities have come through the 631-852-NARC hotline, which Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was instrumental in launching.

“We need to use our most vital resource, and that is the residents of Suffolk County,” Anker said. “We need to have a safer environment, but we need that information from the public.”

To report any information regarding the suspects from the Mount Sinai case, call 800-220-TIPS.

“We took two dangerous individuals off the street and we’ll fully investigate and prosecute this case,” Sini said. “We’ll spare no cost and no time. The fact that this is in our backyard is very concerning. That’s why the message today is to the public. Regarding criminal activity, please call the tips hotline or 911 immediately.”

Police Commissioner Tim Sini discusses housing issues happening across the county. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Housing fraud has hit home for some North Shore officials.

During Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory’s press conference on Monday, fellow legislators, local leaders and county and state officials addressed issues with squatters and unsafe structures cropping up across Long Island.

According to Gregory (D-Amityville), squatters are using foreclosed homes to take advantage of prospective residents looking for an affordable place to live. In many cases, the actual property owners have abandoned the property and some of the homes are becoming safety hazards.

Then there’s the problem of the houses becoming havens for criminal activity.

“A lot of these vacant homes are being used for drug deals,” Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said. “These vacant homes are a danger in our society.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini added that the homes can also become magnets for prostitution and vandalism.

The neglected houses that become sites for criminal activity are commonly called zombie homes.

According to Sini, in each hamlet on Long Island there are dozens of zombie homes or houses that squatters are illegally renting out to unsuspecting tenants.

“We know homelessness is a major crisis for our veterans, for our seniors, for our working families,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “When we see someone taking advantage of someone looking to rent or purchase a home, it’s very heinous because a lot of the times, we’re talking about people’s life savings … and this could really disrupt the family.”

Many tenants find the properties through Craigslist or similar websites. During the event, Gregory said a single mother was one of many people scammed when a squatter posed as a property owner and rented out a parcel to her. Although police were unable to arrest that particular squatter before the person fled, officials are working to arrest suspects in such cases.

They are also urging people to report vacant homes in their neighborhood. Those tips can help — according to Anker, the Rocky Point Civic Association keeps track of these homes and has reported more than 70 vacant homes in the area.

“This is happening all over the county. We want to make sure people are aware of what’s going on and that … when you’re going to rent a property, that you do your due diligence,” Gregory said. “There are people out there, unscrupulous people … who take advantage.”

Gregory will host an educational seminar on the issue on Tuesday, March 29, at the Copiague Memorial Library on Deauville Boulevard. The seminar runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Police say they seized drugs and cash from a Coram home last week. Photo from SCPD

Police will execute more search warrants and make more arrests at known hotspots for drug activity under a new initiative officials announced over the weekend.

The same day police arrested a father and son and seized more than a kilogram of drugs from the father’s home, the Suffolk County Police Department said it is focusing more on shutting down houses in residential areas where drug activity is suspected to be taking place.

That father-son pair was nabbed on Jan. 29, police said, after investigators executed a search warrant on a Coram home and found 730 grams of cocaine, 318 grams of heroin, 36 grams of oxycodone and $200,000 in cash. It was just the most recent in a string of busts through the initiative, which uses detectives from the Special Operations Team “to work with residents to obtain information on who is dealing and where,” according to an SCPD statement. “Armed with that information, detectives will be executing more search warrants of drug houses and making felony arrests at those locations.”

The effort is “fueled in part by residents’ complaints,” the SCPD said in the recent press release.

Police officials at a Jan. 26 civic meeting at the Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station had reported raids at three local drug houses in the week leading up to the meeting, two in Gordon Heights and one in Centereach. At the latter location, 6th Precinct Inspector Bill Murphy said, cops busted a repeat offender and caught him with 4 ounces of cocaine and 2 ounces of heroin.

Police say they seized drugs and cash from a Coram home last week. Photo from SCPD
Police say they seized drugs and cash from a Coram home last week. Photo from SCPD

“He’s going away for a long time,” Murphy said.

In the police department’s announcement of its new initiative, it said investigators had executed nine search warrants in the several weeks since the effort started, seizing thousands of grams of drugs — including crack cocaine and heroin — as well as seven guns, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and drug paraphernalia.

“This new narcotics initiative will target residences where drug dealing is occurring,” Acting Police Commissioner Tim Sini said in a statement. “Drug houses in our neighborhoods degrade our sense of community, public safety and quality of life.”

In the Jan. 29 bust, 40-year-old Joseph Fearon, who police said lived at the Avalon Pines Drive home, was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, four counts of third-degree criminal possession and two counts of second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

Fearon’s attorney, Central Islip-based Glenn Obedin, did not return a call seeking a comment on his client.

The defendant’s son, 23-year-old Jasheme Fearon, a Middle Island resident, was charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal impersonation. Police also said that he was arrested on a New York State parole warrant and a bench warrant.

Attorney information for the younger Fearon was not available.

Drug activity can create spikes in other types of crimes. At the civic meeting last week in the Comsewogue library, Murphy said overall crime has dropped in his precinct but heroin arrests have doubled in the last five years — from 148 in 2011 to 298 last year — and the addicts are behind many of the area’s burglaries and robberies.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the serious crimes we have are driven by drug abuse: [The perpetrators are] addicted to heroin and they’re so addicted to it, they have to get money to go and buy these drugs,” he said.

He and Officer Will Gibaldi invited Port Jefferson Station and Terryville residents at the civic meeting, including some who expressed their frustrations and fears relating to local drug activity, to reach out to them if they have a problem in their neighborhoods.

“If you contact me with a problem, you will get a response,” the inspector said. “You will not be ignored.”

The police’s new drug-house initiative is likewise geared toward responding to community members’ concerns.

“Working together with our law enforcement partners and sharing information is imperative to getting dangerous drugs off our streets and out of our communities,” Legislator Sarah Anker said in a statement about the crackdown on community drug dealing. “If you see something, say something.”

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta, second from right, calls for a federal monitor to oversee the county police department in the wake of recent scandals. Photo from Suffolk County Republicans

North Shore lawmakers are calling on the federal government to keep a closer watch on the county police department.

At a press conference last week, Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) stood beside Republican minority leader Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) at the William Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge to call for heightened oversight of the Suffolk County Police Department via a federal monitor. Their pleas came in light of a recent investigation and indictment of former county Police Chief James Burke, who was accused of beating a handcuffed suspect and attempting to cover up the crime.

During the press conference, numerous members of the Republican Caucus made it clear that both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Tim Sini needed to speak up about what they know — if anything — regarding the alleged malfeasance of the department, given that their positions were so intimately tied to its internal mechanisms.

Trotta said that as more facts related to Burke roll out, it has become more apparent that the problem needs to be addressed by a federal monitor. He and his colleagues argued that federal involvement would allot the best resources available to the investigation and also instill an element of objectivity.

“I want the monitor to come in to make sure that everything in the internal affairs department is running correctly,” Trotta said at the press conference. “I want the monitor to come in and say that the person appointed to be police commissioner is qualified.”

Bellone ensured that a monitor will be established as soon as possible.

Bellone tapped Tim Sini to become Suffolk County police commissioner after serving as Bellone’s chief criminal justice advisor since August 2014.

Before his tenure as Suffolk’s assistant deputy county executive for public safety, Sini served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2010 to 2014, specializing in violent crimes, gang prosecutions and large-scale narcotics cases.

“When looking for a police commissioner, I am seeking someone with character, experience and vision, and Tim Sini has all three,” Bellone said. “Tim is a man of real integrity with a strong sense of justice. Tim Sini has a unique blend of law enforcement experience as a federal prosecutor combined with a keen understanding of Suffolk County’s law enforcement community by serving as my top law enforcement advisor.”

But McCaffrey argued at the press conference that there was no time for “on-the-job training” when one is elevated to the level of commissioner of the county police department. McCaffrey argued that Sini is inexperienced, making it that much more essential that federal investigators seek out accountability.

“This is not a political issue, it is one of public safety and the integrity of our government,” McCaffrey said. “The State of New York, and now Suffolk County, is just roiling with corruption and mismanagement. The people of Suffolk County deserve much better than this, and anything less than full federal involvement will not be acceptable.”

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, someone practices spraying into a dummy’s nostrils. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The Suffolk County Police Department handed out dozens of overdose rescue kits in the Port Jefferson high school on Monday night, at the conclusion of a crowded drug abuse prevention forum geared toward educating parents.

“We have to double-down on prevention,” said Tim Sini, a deputy county commissioner for public safety who has recently been nominated for police commissioner.

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz
People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz

He and other officials from the police department, medical examiner’s office and community spoke at the forum to inform parents about the dangers of drug abuse, including how kids get introduced to and hooked on drugs in the first place. Much of the discussion focused on opioid drugs, which include heroin as well as prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet, and on the lifesaving Narcan, an anti-overdose medication that blocks opioid receptors in the brain and can stop an overdose of those types of drugs.

According to Dr. Scott Coyne, the SCPD’s chief surgeon and medical director, in the three years since Suffolk officers have been trained to administer Narcan — the well-known brand name for naloxone — they have used it successfully 435 times.

Attendees who stayed after the forum were able to register in the police department’s public Narcan program and receive a kit with two doses of the medication, which can be sprayed into an overdose victim’s nostrils.

Narcan training classes are coming up
Want to learn how to use Narcan, the medication that stops an opioid overdose in its tracks? Training courses are taking place across Suffolk County over the next couple of months, including in Port Jefferson and in neighboring Centereach.

Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, blocks receptors in the brain to stop overdoses of drugs like heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin or Demerol, among others. It can be administered through a nasal spray and will not cause harm if mistakenly given to someone who is not suffering an opioid overdose.

The local training sessions meet state health requirements, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and will teach trainees to recognize opioid overdoses, to administer Narcan and to take other steps until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and an emergency kit that includes Narcan.

The first course will be held on Monday, Dec. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the county’s Office of Health Education in Hauppauge, at 725 Veterans Highway, Building C928. RSVP to 631-853-4017 or wanda.ortiz@suffolkcountyny.gov.

In Centereach, a course will take place on Friday, Jan. 15, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Middle Country library at 101 Eastwood Blvd. RSVP before Jan. 11 at alonsobarbara@middlecountrylibrary.org or at 631-585-9393 ext. 213.

Later that month, Hope House Ministries will host another Narcan training session in its facility at 1 High St. in Port Jefferson, in the Sister Aimee Room. That event, held in conjunction with the Port Jefferson ambulance company, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. Call 631-928-2377 for more information or register at https://pjvac.enrollware.com/enroll?id=952865.