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.”