To one group in Huntington Station, it seems that relations between the 2nd Precinct and residents have greatly improved in 2015.
Huntington Matters Neighborhood Watch, an organization that aims to unite citizens and law enforcement to deter crime, awarded several members of the 2nd Precinct this week for their work bettering the relationship between them and community members in Huntington.
Huntington Matters was first formed in response to multiple homicides that took place in Huntington Station over the past two years, including one incident involving Maggie Rosales, an 18-year-old girl who was stabbed to death on Lynch Street.
“A murder here and there became the norm,” said Rob Rockelein, a member of Huntington Matters. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between the average homeowner and town government, and keep a finger on the pulse of what people are worried about.”
Rockelein said the precinct has stepped up as of late and opened up the dialogue within the community since the horrific homicides that started his group.
“They have made a lot of progress,” Rockelein said. “We feel these officers went above and beyond their duties. There is a very transparent relationship now, which is the way it should be. There is no such thing as a bad question from the public.”
Rockelein also said he appreciates the way that multiple departments respond to incidents in Huntington Station and come to the 2nd Precinct meetings as much as possible.
Matt Harris, another member of Huntington Matters, said he agreed with Rockelein.
Harris said he was particularly proud of the Suffolk County Police Department 2nd Precinct Explorer Post 201, which was awarded in recognition of their first assisted arrest.
“They’ve been really making an effort to accommodate our requests,” Harris said in a phone interview.
Harris said the explorer group prevented someone from driving while intoxicated during a spring clean up in town last April. Huntington Matters honored members Harris Wilner, Michael Sullivan and Angel Villitoro.
Inspector Chris Hatton was one of the recipients, receiving an award for community accessibility, and Rockelein said he has been “ultra responsive and very accessible” since he took over from Inspector Edward Brady in July. Brady was also awarded that night for community response.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Hatton said in a phone interview. “We’re really happy to have this partnership and we feel like we’ve been very responsive to their needs.”
Rockelein said that everything is moving in the right direction in regard to the communication and that everyone involved is rising to the occasion and working together.
“Crime is definitely down in Huntington and the 2nd Precinct area in general,” Hatton said. “We now have the opportunity to focus on quality of life issues going forward.”