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Republicans Phil Boyle and Larry Zacarese and Democrat Dan Caroleo are running for Suffolk County sheriff. Photos from left, from Phil Boyle, Larry Zacarese and Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer

Three candidates are currently in the race to become Suffolk County sheriff this November. State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-East Islip), career law enforcer Larry Zacarese (R), Boyle’s Republican primary challenger, and retired New York City police officer Dan Caroleo (D) are each hoping to inherit the position held for 12 years by Vincent DeMarco (R), who announced in May his decision not to seek a fourth term. He declined to comment on his decision.

Boyle, 55, of Bay Shore, who was elected to the New York Senate in November 2012 after serving 16 years as a state assemblyman, was endorsed for sheriff by the Suffolk Conservative Party in March and was backed by both the Republican and Independent parties soon after.

If elected, Boyle, a stepfather of two, said he wants to run the sheriff’s office in the most cost-effective manner possible, promote people based on merit rather than politics and halt the rise of drug overdoses and gang violence. He recently co-sponsored a bill to ban the sale of machetes to minors, the weapon of choice for MS-13 gang members.

The senator, who chaired and helped create the state Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in 2013 to stamp out the growing drug problem, pointed to his active involvement pushing law enforcement issues in Albany as significant qualifiers.

Under the task force, 18 hearings were held across the state, which led to 11 prevention, treatment and enforcement measures passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

When it comes to immigration issues, Boyle said he disagrees with how DeMarco has run the jail.

“I work closely with federal immigration agents to make sure any individuals housed in the Suffolk County jail that agents may want to interact with due to immigration status have access to that,” Boyle said. “DeMarco, for a while, made the jail a sanctuary jail, in my opinion, and I’m definitely not going to allow that to happen.”

Zacarese, 43, of Kings Park, who is currently the assistant chief of  the Stony Brook University police, said he’s looking forward to the primary. Zacarese and his “army of volunteers” are currently gathering 2,000 signatures in order to run. Confident he’s not just another choice, but the better choice, for the top law enforcement job, Zacarese outlined his 25-year law enforcement career.

He started as a Holbrook volunteer fireman at 17, went to paramedic school, then began to work in the NYPD as a patrol officer, canine handler and tactical paramedic. He became a sergeant, then deputy chief fire instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy and an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Stony Brook University.

For four years, while working at Stony Brook by day, Zacarese pursued his shelved passion, attending law school by night. He is currently admitted to practice law in the state.

“My wife tells me I’m the biggest underachiever she knows,” the father of four said, laughing. “I’ve worked really hard rounding out all of the areas that are pertinent to the office of sheriff, which is much more than just the person who oversees the correctional facilities.”

He said, if elected, his main priority is the opioid crisis.

“We really need to take a better look at the prevention and collaboration between addiction programs and not-for-profits, as well as how we can influence treatment while people are being incarcerated,” he said. “It’s about [providing] help while they’re in jail so when they return to their communities, they have started on the path to recovery.”

Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Schaffer, campaign manager for Caroleo, 62, of North Babylon, who was unavailable for comment, said the former New York City police officer, director of security at the North Babylon School District and current member of the district’s school board has, “a wealth of experience, he’s well-rounded and I think he can work cooperatively with, and continue, what County Executive Steve Bellone (D), Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, and DeMarco have laid out — making sure we continue to drive down jail population.”

According to Schaffer, “Caroleo feels he has a great deal of public safety experience” that he could bring to the sheriff’s department.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer from New York was among the strongest opponents of the GOP-backed bill to repeal Obamacare. File photo by Kevin Redding

One U.S. senator is hoping to cut off the flow of fentanyl to the many New York residents struggling with drug addiction.

U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced support for a plan that would stop supplies of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and is not commonly reversed by Narcan, a lifesaving overdose drug, because of how quickly it enters the brain. The drug has come from China, Mexico and other countries into New York City and across the United States. Schumer also publicly decried a just-revealed White House plan to gut the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s budget by 95 percent.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid much stronger than heroin. File photo

“President Trump’s nonsensical proposal is the most destructive contribution he’s made yet to the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic, and another clear sign he has no intention of keeping the promises he’s made to the American people,” Schumer said in a statement. “While candidate Trump pledged to ‘take care’ of Americans struggling with addiction and spend the money to succeed, his proposal to eliminate funding for programs, such as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Drug-Free Communities — which are instrumental in aiding local enforcement drug trafficking in many communities in New York, at the southern border and elsewhere — would effectively kick Americans seeking treatment to the curb and make our communities less safe.”

In 2017, the office received $388 million, and under the Trump (R) administration’s proposal, the office would receive $24 million in 2018. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, which was authorized in 1988 with bipartisan support, currently directs the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the Drug Free Communities Program, anti-doping activities and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The proposed budget plan would also completely zero out the Drug-Free Communities and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas programs, which provide substantial support to treatment, prevention and enforcement efforts on the ground.

“Senate Democrats will never vote to defund these vital programs, and I know there are many colleagues across the aisle who feel likewise,” he said. “I urge the President and Republicans in Congress to reject this proposal immediately.”

With fentanyl continuing its sprint onto the streets of New York City and Long Island, Schumer also launched a major push for the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act. The senator noted the bill is even more important now, with the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s funding on the chopping block.

“Fentanyl-laced heroin is devastating our communities and law enforcement needs to utilize every tool and technology to stop the flow of this deadly poison,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “The act will help law enforcement prevent fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from entering the country and will be a great asset in our efforts to dismantle the networks of traffickers and dealers who are fueling lethal heroin addictions.”

The Schumer-backed bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the hi-tech tools and resources needed to improve detection capabilities and increase the seizure of illicit fentanyl shipped to the U.S. from abroad through mail and express consignment carriers. Schumer said he would work with his colleagues to take action on this issue that is destroying families in New York and the rest of the country, and do everything in his power to prevent Trump’s proposal to cut funds.

Fentanyl overdoses are not commonly reversed by Narcan, seen administered on a dummy during a training session. File photo by Elana Glowatz

“These deadly substances are being delivered to our homes, being sold on our streets and destroying our families,” Schumer said. “We know how they get here and where they come from, now we need to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the resources to stop this flood and help save lives.”

Although pharmaceutical fentanyl can be misused, most of the fentanyl being sold on the street is illicitly manufactured. While distributors in China are the principal source of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug, as well as a source for finished-product illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, Mexico is the primary source for illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States. Fentanyl suppliers then use methods to mislabel shipments or conceal them inside legitimate goods in order to avoid Customs and Border Protection detection. In 2016, nearly 200 pounds of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were seized, primarily from along the southwest border. This is a 25-fold increase of seizures in 2015.

In 2015, 753 people died of an opioid overdose and, as of April, that number was projected to hit 1,075 for 2016. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says fentanyl is driving overdose death increases in New York City and is increasingly present in deaths from drug overdoses. There were 303 opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County in 2016, including 171 related to fentanyl. In Nassau County, there were 190 opioid-related deaths in 2016, including 62 related to fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is now killing more Long Islanders than even heroin is, and we know it’s only a matter of time before the next deadly synthetic opioid hits the streets,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of the Family and Children’s Association, a not-for-profit agency that helps protect and strengthen vulnerable children, seniors, families and communities on Long Island. “As substance abuse prevention specialists and addiction treatment professionals work to reduce the demand for drugs, the act will help reduce the supply of synthetic opioids flooding across our borders, into our homes, schools and communities. This legislation is critical as we continue to battle an unrelenting opioid and heroin crisis.”

A local effort to ban a popular ingredient in beauty products has support on the federal level.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman visited Long Island recently to announce the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, a bipartisan federal bill that would ban cosmetics containing plastic pellets called microbeads, which are frequently smaller than 1 millimeter in diameter and are found in face washes, shampoos, beauty products and other soaps.

Because of their size, most wastewater treatment systems are unable to filter out the microbeads, so they are released into local waterways like the Long Island Sound. But microbeads accumulate toxins in the water, and fish and birds ingest them. Public health could be at risk if the fish are reeled in and eaten.

Schneiderman reported that about 19 tons of the small pellets pass through New York wastewater treatment plants each year.

Gillibrand’s bill has sponsors and co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, most of them from the Midwest, according to a press release from the senator’s office. It is similar to a New York state-level bill of the same name, which is Schneiderman’s effort to prohibit the sale and distribution of products containing microbeads.

“These tiny pieces of plastic have already caused significant ecological damage to New York’s waterways,” Gillibrand said, “and they will continue to do so until they are removed from the marketplace.”

The state bill passed the Assembly in the last session but was not put up for a vote in the Senate, despite having more co-sponsors than the number of votes it would have needed to pass.

New York is not alone in pushing to ban microbeads — Illinois has already given them the axe, and other states are considering similar legislation.

Many local residents first heard about the issue when Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) led her colleagues to passing a law that required the county to study how a microbead ban would affect health and the economy.

She commended officials for their anti-microbead effort on the national stage.

“The threat posed by microbead waste is of national consequence,” Hahn said in the press release. “The cumbersome task of tackling this issue [from] municipality to municipality and state to state will never prove as effective as a federal approach.”

Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the local Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said there are other effective alternatives to microbeads, such as apricot shells, salt and oatmeal.

“The public expects facial soaps and toothpaste to clean our face and teeth, not pollute our waters,” Esposito said. “Plastic microbeads pollute our waters, contaminate our fish and shellfish, and could end up back on our dinner plates. They are completely unnecessary.”

Education advocates march into the office of state Sen. John Flanagan on Thursday calling for the passage of the New York State Dream Act. Photo by Phil Corso

The Smithtown office of state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) had a line going out the door last week as advocates called on him and his fellow lawmakers to pass the New York State Dream Act before legislative session ended.

Dream Act advocates congregate outside Sen. John Flanagan's office Thursday in prayer. Photo by Phil Corso
Dream Act advocates congregate outside Sen. John Flanagan’s office Thursday in prayer. Photo by Phil Corso

Various faith leaders from congregations across Long Island gathered in prayer outside Flanagan’s office on Thursday with hopes of nudging the recently appointed Senate majority leader to help pass the Dream Act before session ended June 17. The advocates held up signs in protest of the state’s sluggish pace in making the legislation a reality for the nearly 146,000 undocumented immigrants across New York who graduated from public high schools but are unable to access federally-funded financial aid for college.

The bill, which has passed in the Assembly in February by a vote of 87-45, would open up state aid for the students.

Peggy Fort, a retired teacher and social justice chair of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, stood in the crowd outside Flanagan’s office Thursday and said the state had to act before thousands of up-and-coming immigrant children are locked out of the higher education process.

“Allowing our New York State ‘dreamers’ who are full of courage, creativity and intellect to access funding for higher education is a way of ensuring the future of New York State,” she said. “It makes absolutely no sense to continue this policy of no action. But I think we will be able to turn that around.”

A June 2015 report from the Fiscal Policy Institute found there were 526,000 immigrants living on Long Island, making up 18 percent of the population and 20 percent of the economic output. Of those immigrants, almost 100,000 are undocumented — about half living in Suffolk County and half in Nassau.

Sister Rosalie Carven delivers petitions to state Sen. John Flanagan's Chief of Staff Ray Bernardo on Thursday. Photo by Phil Corso
Sister Rosalie Carven delivers petitions to state Sen. John Flanagan’s Chief of Staff Ray Bernardo on Thursday. Photo by Phil Corso

Victoria Daza, of workers advocacy group Long Island Jobs with Justice, said Flanagan was an ideal Long Island lawmaker to head up the Dream Act push, as his North Shore district encompasses educational hubs Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College. Daza said it was unacceptable that Flanagan has yet to publicly support the legislation in the four years since it was first introduced, leaving students to foot their full college bill with each passing year.

“The Dream Act cannot wait,” she said. “Education is a human right and these kids should not be excluded.”

Flanagan’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Soon after a short prayer vigil outside, the throng of advocates marched into Flanagan’s office along with more than 100 petition signatures. Sister Rosalie Carven, a social justice coordinator with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, walked into the office with conviction before handing over the paperwork and asking Flanagan Chief of Staff Ray Bernardo to deliver their message.

“It can’t stop here. Everyone here is an advocate for the passage of this,” she said. “The time is now. The job has to get done. It’s discriminatory to keep kids out of higher education.”