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Police

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Protesters marched through Port Jefferson June 18 to call for an end to police brutality and racism. Photo by David Luces

Well over 200 protesters walked through Main Street in Port Jefferson Village June 18, calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. It was just one of countless other protests going on nationwide since the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police three weeks ago.

Malachi Moloney, the speaker of the house for the Black Student Union at Stony Brook University, and who was at the head of facilitating and promoting the protest, said he was happy with the overall turnout.

“It means the world to me — we wanted people to leave here with a better understanding of the movement and hope we gave them examples of how to be a better ally. I think we did that,” he said.

The SBU student said the reason they chose Port Jeff as the site of the march was to give people perspective on how black communities feel on Long Island.

“Places like this, they think the status quo is serving the majority,” Moloney said. “This protest shows that we are not happy with the status quo. If you come together with a singular purpose in mind, there’s great power in that.”

Moloney said there is more work to be done.

“We are continuing the movement that has swept the nation. In the last two weeks we have had more progress from a civil rights standpoint since 1964,” he said. “That’s the repeal of 50a, the charging of Rayshad Brook’s murderers, we are still waiting on Breonna Taylor’s case.”

Jarvis Watson, Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs at Stony Brook University, marched with the protesters and lauded the young people who were in the demonstration.

“I want to thank these young people for being here, making sure and recognizing that Black Lives Matter,” he said. “They are not just our future, they are our now. We have to make establishments take the knee off those who are oppressed.”

Amara Ayler, from Huntington, spoke on her experiences being black on Long Island.

“It’s not OK for me to fear walking to school and I see a police car and I fear for my life for no reason because I have a backpack on. It’s not right. It’s not fair,” she said. The police are supposed to make us feel safe. The police have never made me feel safe ever in my life. They’re supposed to protect and serve.”

Ayler said every time she hears Breonna Tayler’s name, she hears her own name.

“Amara Ayler, Breonna Taylor, it sounds similar,” she said. “It could be me, I don’t want to be another name on a list, I don’t want to be a poster or t-shirt. It’s not OK.”

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Well over 100 peaceful protesters lined Route 25A in Rocky Point June 12, calling for an end to police brutality and more in the wake of Minneapolis man George Floyd’s killing in police custody almost three weeks ago.

A number of area locals and other Long Island residents crowded the sidewalk in front of the Kohl’s shopping center. Suffolk County Police were present, mainly asking protesters to keep off the road for safety reasons.

A diverse crowd of multiple races and ages shouted slogans such as “black lives matter,” and “I can’t breathe,” also the last words of Floyd and Eric Garner, who was killed during a police chokehold in New York City in 2014. Several passing cars honked their horns in support.

Jim Sweeney, a Selden resident, said the protests today have shown much more diversity than those in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, though so many of the problems remain the same as they were over half a century since.

“Everyone wants to say its one bad cop, its one bad cop, but there were four cops who killed George Floyd, there were supervisors who falsified the report, there was a medical examiner who tried to say it wasn’t murder — how did Floyd run into seven bad people in one instance?” Sweeney said. “If Floyd was white, he wouldn’t have even been handcuffed.”

Other protesters said they have been calling for an end to black oppression for many years.

“I’m a privileged white woman, who no matter what obstacles in my life I have been able to overcome them, but I can’t say the same for my black brothers and sisters, so I want to stand here in support of them,” said Mary Cappasso.

While many residents wrote on social media, they feared violence from the protests, all still remained peaceful.

“We’re protesting because black Americans deserve the same rights that everyone else already has and they’ve been oppressed too long, it’s time to speak up,” said Nikita Narsingh, of Mount Sinai. “If there’s any time it’s now,”

Sound Beach resident Emily Marciano came to the protest with her son, Dontae. She is white, while her son is black. She said it’s systemic racism as a whole that needs reform, not just the police.

“Whenever I see [police violence against minorities] it scares me to think … I’ve also been told by someone in the area ‘you don’t shoot deer, you do black people,” she said. “It scares me when my son goes out, wondering if he could come home or he could not come home, if someone sees him and doesn’t like the color of his skin.”

Several hundred people crowded on to the north side of Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook June 7 in one of a series of protests against racial injustice and police brutality from all around Long Island.

Across from Smith Haven Mall, several hundred protesters gathered both along the busy intersection and a small field just behind the police barricades. At one point, police stopped traffic for a time to allow protesters to march down the road. Cars honked horns in support, and some drove by holding their own signs in solidarity with those at the rally.

Protesters shouted lines such as “no justice, no peace.” People also laid on their stomachs with their hands behind their backs, much as Minneapolis man George Floyd was May 25 when the now-fired officer Derek Chauvin pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck. The crowd shouted while on the ground, “I can’t breathe,” some of the last wods Floyd spoke.

Suffolk County has had around 85 protests since the killing of Floyd more than a week ago, according to County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

All photos by Mike Reilly

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File photo

Suffolk County Police said they arrested a man in Port Jeff for allegedly committing a lewd act in front of people at a park in Port Jefferson.

Police said a pedestrian saw a man committing a lewd act at Harborfront Park, located at 101 East Broadway at around 10:15 a.m. Thursday, June 4 and called 911.

6th Precinct  officers said they arrested Frank Cappuccio was. Cappuccio 70, of 12 Hemlock Path, Port Jefferson was charged with Public Lewdness.

Village trustee Kathianne Snaden wrote on Facebook the man was “acting innapropriately” in a semi-dressed state while in his car.

Cappuccio was issued a eesk appearance ticket and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on June 24.

Stock photo

As a part of a drive-in movie series, Smith Point County Beach will show the movie “Jaws” on June 20, 45 years after the Steven Spielberg-directed film terrified theater goers throughout a country a year removed from a gas crisis that appears tame by comparison to the confluence of today’s challenges.

“Hopefully that will be an experience people will enjoy with their families,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. “Hopefully, they will enjoy it in a safe way.”

Suffolk County is approaching the end of its first full week in Phase One of an economic reopening, even as emotions run high in the county, the country and the world after the killing of George Floyd by a now-fired Minneapolis police officer who is now facing murder charges.

Group gatherings, even peaceful protests, themselves pose a health risk to attendees as researchers continue to try to develop a vaccine for a virus that threatens the health and lives of residents, particularly those with underlying medical conditions.

“We are always going to be concerned with people coming together in large gatherings, where they are not practicing social distancing,” Bellone said. “We want people to protest and express their First Amendment rights, but we want to do it safely.”

The county executive again thanked the community for peaceful expressions throughout the efforts to restart the economy and as protests in urban areas have, at times, led to violent confrontations with police and to rioting and looting.

Bellone said the Suffolk County Police Department is taking the approach that the officers are a part of the community and are not just in place to restrict or police others.

“When people are out there protesting because they have a message they want to get across, ‘We are there to make sure they are safe,’” Bellone said.

While officials remain concerned about the possibility of larger gatherings leading to resurgence of the virus after hard-won gains during the deadly month of April, they are also willing to change their guidance if such gatherings don’t lead to an increase in infections or put a strain on the recovering health care system.

The county can look at these gatherings and see how they affect public health, Bellone said. “We can take something away from that,” he said.

Still, the county executive said he urges residents not to become too cavalier about following rules that have led to an improvement in the overall health of the county, albeit at the cost of a slowed economy and an increase in unemployment.

“After being cooped up for so long” with all the devastation from the effort to flatten the curve and save people’s lives, residents need to think about “how to prevent sliding back in any way,” Bellone urged. “If people continue to be smart and exercise caution, we can reopen our economy safely. We need the public to continue to be smart.”

Viral Figures

The number of new positive tests for COVID-19 was 62, bringing the total to 39,705. That doesn’t include the 14,138 people who have tested positive for the antibody.

The number of people in the hospital with the virus, a figure no one in the health care system over the course of the year is likely to ever take for granted, declined by 16 to 253.

The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit also declined seven to 67.

The percentage of hospital beds and ICU beds with COVID-19 patients, meanwhile, was at 62 and 63, respectively, which are well below the original target of 70 percent or lower.

Another 25 people were discharged from the hospital over the last day.

The number of people who died from complications related to COVID-19 climbed by five to 1,906.

The county distributed another 24,000 pieces of personal protective equipment over the last day. That total has reached over 5.7 million since the pandemic reached the shores of Long Island.

File photo

Suffolk County Police said marine officers rescued three men who were stranded in the Long Island Sound Thursday evening.

A 911 caller reported to police that three men were fishing and became stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft that was drifting out to sea approximately one mile north of Sound Beach at around 7:30 p.m May 14. The raft was taking on water.

Marine officers Greg Stroh and Mike Malone responded in Marine Delta and located the men in the raft within 15 minutes of the call. The boats occupants, Carlos Argeta 31, Elmer Argeta, 36, and Moisises Perez, 38, all of Patchogue, were taken aboard Marine Delta and transported along with their raft to a boat ramp in Mount Sinai.

The three men, all wearing life jackets, were not injured.

File photo

Suffolk County Police said a man was killed in Coram Wednesday, May 13 after he was struck by a car.

Police said a Shoreham man was allegedly driving a 2010 Mercedes northbound on North Ocean Avenue, near Hawkins Road, when the vehicle struck William Moschetto, 33 of Mount Sinai, who walked into the roadway into the path of the vehicle at around 12:15 p.m.

Moschetto was taken via ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

A blood sample with respiratory coronavirus positive. Stock photo

Even as Suffolk County moves closer every day to the possibility of restarting the economy and reopening shuttered businesses amid a steady decline in hospitalizations from COVID-19, the number of positive tests for the county as a hole and for hotspot testing sites for the virus continue to increase.

In the last 24 hours, 889 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total who have tested positive for the virus that has caused the pandemic to reach 36,974, bringing the total above the number of confirmed cases for Switzerland and about 44 percent of the number of confirmed cases out of China, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The number of positive tests “should be a little bit of a wake up call for people,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on a conference call with reporters. “We know the margin for error in the rate of transmission is not great.”

Indeed, the county executive said the transmission rate for each positive test is about 0.75. If the county rises to 1.1 on the rate of transmission – meaning each infected person passes along the virus to more than one other person – the virus could “spread out of control,” Bellone said. “We don’t have a lot of room to spare in these numbers.”

Bellone urged Suffolk County residents to understand that reopening “has to be done right.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said during his daily press briefing today that he will work to figure out what is causing the new infections, which would enable a more targeted approach to protecting the population, Bellone suggested.

As New York starts the seventh week of the governor’s New York Pause tonight, the number of people who have died in Suffolk County continues to climb. Over the last day, 29 people have died from complications related to Covid-19, bringing the total number of fatalities in the county to 1,256.

“There is not a person in Suffolk County who hasn’t been either directly impacted or knows somebody who has been affected,” Bellone said.

On the positive front, the number of hospitalizations continues its steady decline, with a reduction of 38 residents in the last day, bringing the total to 813. That is a decline of close to 51 percent from the highest coronavirus hospitalizations, which the county reached April 10. If the numbers decline over the next two days, Suffolk County will have reached 14 consecutive days where the net number of hospitalizations from the virus came down. That would meet the guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to start a phased reopening of the economy.

The number of people in Intensive Care Units also declined by three, to 324.

As of today, the number of people in hospital beds and in the intensive care units hovered around 70 percent, which is also a targeted figure from the CDC for reopening, as the health agency would like hospitals to have enough room for any future increase in admissions if the infection rate increases in the fall or winter.

In hotspot testing sites, the number of positive tests was 1,038 out of close to 2,400 results, which brings the positive rate of testing to 43.2 percent. That is still above the rate of 35.3 percent for the rest of the county, but it is a narrowing of the gap, Bellone said.

Bellone’s office distributed 24,000 personal protective equipment yesterday, bringing the total to 3.2 million since the crisis began. Yesterday, the county received 6,250 Tyvec Coveralls from the Federal Emergency Management Association.

As the warmer weather reaches Long Island, the Suffolk County Police Department continues to monitor the activity of people who have been cooped up indoors for weeks, cooking meals, cleaning their homes, and taking care of their children and, to the extent they can, continuing to manage their jobs.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the volume is up in the parks and outside in general. “Overwhelmingly, people are in compliance” with social distancing guidelines, Hart said. “We’re hoping that’s what we’re going to see moving forward.”

Hart said the police will also continue to monitor any demonstrations in reaction to New York Pause, which is scheduled to end on May 15. She said if the police saw opportunities to provide face coverings to protestors or to remind them to maintain social distancing, the officers would do that.

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The money police said a St. James man sent to St. Louis as part of a phone scam. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police worked in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intercept cash sent by a St. James man as part of a phone scam.

Police said a 79-year-old man received a phone call April 8 from an individual who claimed the man’s grandson had been involved in a motor vehicle crash and subsequently arrested. The caller said the victim needed to send $9,500 in cash to an address in St. Louis to be utilized for his grandson’s bail.

This kind of scam has been used before, where scammers pretend to be a family member needing cash for bail. Scammers often use social media to get facts about the person before calling up family members, usually the grandparents.

The man, who sent the cash via USPS, then spoke with his grandson and determined the call was a scam and called police. Financial Crimes Unit detectives contacted officials at the New York office of the Postal Inspection Service who then contacted officials in the St. Louis office. Postal inspectors intercepted the package prior to delivery and turned over the cash to detectives April 14 to be returned to the victim.

“I would like to commend the efforts of the Financial Crimes Unit detectives who kept an innocent victim’s money from making its way into the hands of a scammer — a result that is not always easy,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “We would like to remind people to be alert to scams such as this one, as well as those involving the IRS, Social Security and utility companies. It is also important to be aware of emerging scams relating to COVID-19.”

For more information on scams, visit www.suffolkpd.org.

Led by Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, the medical director for perioperative quality and patient safety, the clinical trial for plasma donations is expected to enroll up to 500 patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

The next piece of personal protective equipment that Suffolk County needs is gowns, as Long Island remains at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today, the county will receive 25,000 gowns, thanks to the work of the procurement team which has been “scouring the planet for supplies,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

While those gowns will help the health care workers who have been helping the influx of patients coming into hospitals, they won’t be sufficient amid the ongoing outbreak.

“The burn rate [for gowns] is absolutely incredible,” said Bellone, who urged residents to donate hospital gowns to the Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services site at 102 East Avenue in Yaphank between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Bellone thanked Onandago County Executive Ryan McMahon, who is sending reinforcements in the form of 22 nurses to Stony Brook University.

“Those nurses will come down here to provide assistance and relief to front line workers who have been going at this nonstop, working shift after shift in an incredibly intense environment,” Bellonme said. “We are extraordinarily grateful.”

Bellone also thanked DS Services of America, a company based in Georgia, who brought a tractor trailer load of bottled water, coffee, tea and a collection of beverages to the county. The county will deliver those donations to first responders and health care workers.
Criminals Caught

While some people have taken the crisis in the county as an opportunity to contribute, others have seen it as a chance to commit crimes.

This week, the Suffolk County Police Department arrested Joseph Porter of Mastic Beach and Rebecca Wood of Lake Ronkonkoma in Bay Shore for a string of 11 burglaries committed between March 9, the day after Suffolk County had its first coronavirus patient, and April 7.

One of the alleged burglars told police he thought he would be able to get away with his crimes because the police were distracted with the virus.

“He was wrong,” Bellone said.

Additionally, police apprehended John Cayamanda, a St. James resident, whom they allege committed several acts of arson since the start of the virus.

“This is a reassurance to the public that our police department and all of our law enforcement agencies are on the job and are able to do their work,” Bellone said.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the number of domestic violence incidents, which have been climbing nationally amid social distancing and work-from-home arrangements, has climbed 8 percent.

“We have a dedicated unit for domestic violence and they are continuing their outreach, identifying individuals and making sure they get the assistance they need,” Hart said on the call.
Cases Climb

As for the coronavirus tests, the number of confirmed cases continues to climb, rising 1,700 to 18,602 people. The total is about a half of the number reported for all of mainland China, Bellone said.

As of yesterday, the number of Suffolk County Police officers who tested positive for COVID-19 was 62, with 18 of those officers returning to work.

The number of people hospitalized in the last 24 hours showed the smallest increase in recent weeks, rising by 10 people.

“That is a good sign,” Bellone said.

The number of people entering the Intensive Care Unit, meanwhile, rose by 14 people, which is still below a recent high from several days ago.

Overall, the number of hospital beds in the county stands at 3,365, with 750 total ICU beds. Currently, there are 585 hospital beds and 102 ICU beds available.

Over the last 24 hours, 39 people have died from the virus, which brings the total for the county up to 362.

“Our hearts break for those families who have been impacted by this,” Bellone said. “We know we are not at the apex. We are still in the thick of this.”

To reach young people who may not be practicing the same social distancing guidelines, Bellone said he was launching a peer-to-peer Covid challenge. This initiative attempts to tap into the creativity of students to share their stories about what they are doing online and with their peers. He said he hopes those people who follow social distancing guidelines will inspire their peers to do the same.
Seeking Plasma Donors, Saving N95 Masks 
Separately, Stony Brook University is looking for donors who have recovered from a coronavirus infection who can contribute plasma that might help others fight the disease.

Led by Elliott Bennet-Guerrero, the Medical Director of Perioperative Quality and Patient Safety, the study plans to treat up to 500 Long Island patients with convalescent plasma, which is rich in the antibodies patients who defeated COVID-19 used to return to health.

Stony Brook University Hospital received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients through a randomized, controlled study. In a typical study, the groups would be evenly divided between those who receive the treatment and those who get a control. The public health crisis, however, has allowed researchers to change that mix, so that 80 percent of the patients in the trial will receive the convalescent plasma.

Also, Stony Brook announced a novel way to disinfect the coveted N95 masks, which have become the gold standard to protect health care workers and first responders.

Ken Shroyer, the Chair of the Department of Pathology, and Glen Itzkowitz, Associate Dean for Research Facilities & Operations, found that masks passed fit tests after they were treated up to four repeated cycles in a dry heat oven at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

In an email, Shroyer explained that temperature control is important because the masks need to be sterilized at the highest temperature possible, although they failed if they were heated above 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Since some ovens might not have accurate thermostats, it would be helpful to confirm the temperature inside the oven with a thermometer.

The procedure involves placing each mask in a paper bag labeled with the name of the health care provider and work location. A technician seals the bags with indicator tape and places them in the oven.

“The team has discussed potential fabrication efforts to construct a sterilizer racking system capable of recycling as many as 8,000 masks a day through the heat treatment,” Itzkowitz said in a press release.

Stony Brook researchers hope hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes could use this technique to protect workers on the front lines of the battle against the virus.