Tags Posts tagged with "Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone"

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

The Long Island Game Farm in Manorville was awarded a $568,000 grant from Suffolk County in December as part of the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program, which provides funding to support downtown growth and to help local businesses and institutions to remain economically competitive. 

“I am sincerely grateful for the generous support from Suffolk County and JumpSMART program awarded to the Long Island Game Farm,” shares Melinda Novak, president of the game farm. “This grant will enable us to renovate our amphitheater and develop a universal access trail, which has been a long-time dream for us to be able to share with all members of our community. This expansion coincides with the efforts of our new nonprofit arm, the Foundation for Wildlife Sustainability, as it develops programs in the cultural, educational, and wellness categories. Knowing Suffolk County believes in us gives us great hope for our future aspirations as the Long Island Game Farm continues to grow.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator James Mazzarella, Legislator Nick Caracappa, and Legislator minority leader Jason Richberg visited the game farm on December 15 to present the check to Novak, Foundation for Wildlife Sustainability Tricia Snyder, game farm staff, and even two of the resident goats. Many of those in attendance agreed that the game farm is an iconic piece of Long Island’s history, dating back to 1970, and have fond memories of visiting in their childhood. For more information, visit longislandgamefarm.com or call 631-878-6644. 

Photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

The Three Village Historical Society was awarded a $300,000 grant, courtesy of the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program on Monday afternoon, Dec. 18. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and other local officials gathered at Gallery North to present the organization with a giant check signifying the donation.

Along with the Three Village Historical Society, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, LI Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame and Gallery North – Setauket Historic District also received generous grants from the JumpSMART program. The donations’ funding will be used to support downtown revitalization efforts.

“The funding that we’re distributing here is about supporting our downtowns and our cultural institutions that are so important,” Bellone said. “Much of the funding comes out of the award that we received from the federal government — they really are about promoting economic sustainability over the long term, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than investing in our cultural arts and institutions like the ones here.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk police commissioner Rodney Harrison. File photo

The Suffolk County Police Department is reminding residents to be vigilant of scammers looking to profit during the holiday season.

Criminals are constantly looking for new opportunities to prey on people for financial gain, and the holidays are traditionally a time when people are preoccupied and could fall victim to a scam.

Scammers are also increasingly turning to artificial intelligence “spoofing” tools to clone the voices of individuals who post on social media. Scammers use those cloned voices to create a script to call a family member of the person whose voice was cloned in hopes of convincing an unsuspecting victim to send money.

An 85-year-old Hauppauge man received a call from an individual utilizing artificial intelligence voice change who claimed to be his granddaughter and stated she was arrested and needed $19,000 in bail money. Her grandfather met an individual two separate times on November 9 and turned over the requested cash.

During another recent scam, a 70-year-old Smithtown woman spoke to an individual purporting to be an Amazon representative, claiming someone was attempting to use her bank account to buy electronics. The woman was told since her bank account was compromised, she should turn over her cash to keep it safe. The victim made three separate withdrawals totaling more than $100,000, and the cash was then picked up by the same man on three different dates. 

Following the withdrawals, the victim was advised to purchase gold coins at a pawn shop with a personal check of $94,000. After doing so, she sent a photo of the receipt to the suspect, who would then pick up the coins when ready.

While these cases both remain under investigation, it is a reminder of how convincing scammers can be. Financial Crime Unit detectives are providing free scam prevention presentations to community groups and senior centers in an effort to educate the public. Additionally, the department has created safety tip flyers in multiple languages to ensure the message is being received by all residents.

As a reminder, people should be wary of individuals claiming:

• To be part of a legitimate organization that you are familiar with.

• There is a problem or a prize.

• A family member is injured or in jail.

• You need to act immediately or threaten your safety.

• Payment must be made in a specific form, i.e. cash, Venmo etc.

“Residents need to be aware of individuals that are looking to take advantage of the generosity of others during this time of year,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “We strongly encourage the public to educate themselves and be cognizant of such operations that are prevalent during the holiday season so that they are protected from scammers.”

“We are reminding residents to resist the urge to act immediately,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said. “Before sending money, speak to a trusted family member or call police. No legitimate company makes threats or demands cash.”

If you are interested in a prevention seminar or obtaining safety tips, contact the department’s Financial Crimes Unit at 631-852-6821.

County Executive Steve Bellone during a press conference in Hauppauge. Photo from Suffolk County

By Nancy Marr

Following the death of George Floyd, Governor Andrew Cuomo in June of 2020 issued Directive 203, requiring all NYS counties to write a plan to reform the policies of their police departments by April 21, 2021.

In September 2020,  Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the formation of a task force, saying “The development of the comprehensive policing plan…will help us build on the progress we have made and implement strategies that will improve policing.” 

In addition to ten task force meetings, ten listening sessions were held throughout the county, in 2020 and 296 community members offered community input. In March 2021 the plan was approved by the Legislature. In December 2021, the Legislature codified the plan to give the Human Rights Commission the responsibility for providing citizen review; and it was submitted to the Governor on April 1. The reform and reinvention plan focuses on the following:

Training and Continuing Education — enhanced accountability through the use of body cameras, training in de-escalation, implicit bias,  the duty to intervene, and integrating community-based organizations into academic training for all police. 

Mental Health Response — the plan calls for overhauling the police department’s mental health response, and collaborating with mental health partners. A 911 operator answering a call will speak to the caller to “assess the nature of the service needed.” If there is no emergency or safety concern, the call will be transferred to a behavioral health center. If the operator concludes that there is a risk to the safety of persons, a contact will be made to a Mobile Crisis Team and the SCPD.

Police Accountability and Citizen Review of SCPD — A key provision of the Suffolk reform plan is civilian oversight of the SCPD through the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission’s Administration of Justice Committee (AOJ). In January 2022, during the pandemic, the Human Rights Commission began the long task of implementing the citizen review panel, exploring and selecting a platform for the submission portal and hiring new staff. After training the investigators and commissioners for their new roles, it went live in March 2023. 

Prior to the reform, residents making complaints would contact the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) of the Police Department which was responsible for investigating and responding to the complaints. A complaint may now also be filed with the Human Rights Commission through its online portal by phone or on line. 

The HRC Executive Director and investigators are provided with an IAB case file number, and HRC investigators  review police misconduct investigations in tandem with IAB by means of access to a shared date portal, Axon Evidence. The HRC investigators review cases on a daily basis, and the HRC Executive Director provides a general update on the complaints at monthly meetings.

Prior to a final determination of the complaint, IAB will share its recommendation  with the HRC investigators. If the IAB and HRC cannot agree on the final disposition, HRC can notify the Deputy Police Commissioner and/or the County Executive Police Accountability Liaison, who facilitates conversations between members of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), SCPD Internal Affairs Bureau, and Human Rights Commission to resolve discrepancies in decisions. 

It remains to be seen how a serious disagreement would be solved. Once the disposition is finalized, the Human Rights investigator and/or the police department shares with the complainant the final determination and actions to be taken. Complainants will be able to call Suffolk 311 to be connected directly to the unit.

Information is being compiled by the HRC Committee regarding the public’s experiences with the SCPD and the investigation process in order to monitor how much progress has been made to foster a positive relationship between the SCPD and the public. It is important that all Suffolk County residents know how complaints are made. Go to the HRC portal, https://suffolkcountyny.siviltech.com/, for a complaint form and a breakdown of the complaints made in 2023.

We will be looking for a report from the Commission about whether the process has been effective and recommend that our new County Executive will select a new police commissioner who will continue to implement the reforms. 

Nancy Marr is Vice-President of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Visit  www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org or call 631-862-6860.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk police commissioner Rodney Harrison. File photo

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, who helped the department crack the Gilgo Beach serial killings case, announced on Nov. 2 that he is resigning after nearly two years on the job.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone released a statement on Nov. 3, thanking Harrison for his service.

“For the last two years, Commissioner Rodney Harrison has led the Suffolk County Police Department with honor, integrity, and distinction,” Bellone said. “Because of his efforts, our communities are safer, the department is more equitable, accountable and transparent, and meaningful relationships have been fostered with our diverse communities.”

The county executive released a statement, saying, “For the last two years, Commissioner Rodney Harrison has led the Suffolk County Police Department with honor, integrity, and distinction. Because of his efforts, our communities are safer, the department is more equitable, accountable and transparent, and meaningful relationships have been fostered with our diverse communities.
Commissioner Harrison’s achievements are innumerable, including the continued implementation of our historic police reform plan, significant investments in officer safety and tackling quality of life issues, but the most significant in his tenure is the arrest of an alleged serial killer in connection to the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation.
On the day I nominated Commissioner Harrison for the post, December 14, 2021, I specifically cited the Gilgo Beach serial murder case as the top priority. I said that Commissioner Harrison would ‘bring to bear his extensive investigative experience on this case and work with our federal, state and local partners to help bring closure to the victims and their families.
In his first week on the job, Commissioner Harrison toured the Gilgo site himself and made a commitment to families to do everything in his power to solve the case. And just six weeks later, he established the Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force on February 15, 2022, which ultimately led to the arrest in the case.
Commissioner Harrison was the first person ever to rise from the NYPD Cadet program to become the top uniformed officer in the largest police department in the nation. He continued to make history in Suffolk County as the first black Commissioner in the Department’s history.
The SCPD is one of the greatest police departments in the nation and Commissioner Harrison’s legacy here will be one of professionalism, integrity and progress. I extend my genuine gratitude to the Commissioner for his historic service to our county and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”



Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, at podium, announces new downtown revitalization stimulus funds for Smithtown communities. Photo from Bellone’s Flickr page

By Sabrina Artusa

Suffolk County is giving Kings Park, St. James and Smithtown a sizable chunk of downtown revitalization stimulus.

These funds, made available by the pandemic economic recovery allotments, will help revitalize the downtown districts while investing in developing infrastructure in downtown areas.

Through the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program, which awards money to nonprofits, organizations and businesses, and the Jumpstart program, which awards money to towns and municipalities, the county gave $5.5 million to improve the local downtown economies.

“We recognize that our long-term economic prosperity is dependent to an extent on the success of our downtowns,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). “Our downtowns are the places where we have the vibrancy we need to keep and attract young people in our community.”

The Smithtown Performing Arts Center was awarded $500,000, and Celebrate St. James, a leading organization in preserving arts and culture in St. James, was awarded a $100,000 JumpSMART grant. The town was additionally given a $900,000 JumpStart grant for the acquisition and restoration of the century-old Calderone Theatre, which is currently in disrepair.

Kings Park, Bellone said, has one of the most prosperous downtowns in Suffolk County. The Agape Community Sports Services was awarded a $1.45 million JumpSMART Award. Bellone described the organization as a “major regional tourism asset” expected to attract 350,000 people to Kings Park.

The Town of Smithtown was also awarded $2.5 million for traffic and street improvements in Kings Park.

“Every single penny we receive will be well spent, and it will be to benefit the Smithtown community,” Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said.

“This is how we are able to raise local talent, invest in local communities and, more importantly, put your tax dollars back in your hands, which is why we are doing it.” Minority Leader Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon) added.

Also in attendance were legislators Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), Suffolk County’s commissioner of Economic Development and Planning Sarah Lansdale, and Jonathan Keyes, director of downtown revitalization and transit-oriented development.

“Without the Legislature voting to put these funds in place in this year’s operating budget and in the capital budget over the last couple of years, this wouldn’t be possible,” Bellone said.

The Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency in partnership with the Long Island Veteran Suicide Prevention Coalition will host the 5th annual Veterans Resource and Stand Down Event to provide information and services to our local veterans in need on Tuesday, August 29 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the H. Lee Dennison Building Media Rooms, 100 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge.

This year, 26 organizations and county agencies will participate, offering a variety of resources free-of-charge.

“I am proud to host this resource event that honors and supports our brave veterans,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Suffolk County is home to the largest veteran community in the state so it is vital for them to have access to these essential resources. It’s our way of showing gratitude and providing the tangible assistance our veterans truly deserve.”

 Veterans who attend  will have an opportunity to receive a variety of resources including: sneakers, socks, t-shirts, rain jackets, backpacks, underwear, hats, fresh produce, information about local veterans nonprofit programs and much more!

Over the last two years, more than 500 veteran attendees have received resources from the various organizations and county agencies at the Stand Down Event. The County anticipates 200 veterans will attend this year.

The following organizations will be participating in the event:

  • Suffolk County Community College

  • General Needs Ltd

  • Long Island Cares, Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank

  • American Red Cross

  • VA Medical Center Women’s Healthcare

  • Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.

  • CN Guidance and Counseling Services, Inc.

  • Long Island Problem Gambling Resource Center

  • Veterans Yoga Project

  • St. Joseph’s University NY, Office of Military and Veteran Services (OMVS)

  • National Grid

  • Long Island State Veterans Home

  • Paws of War

  • Stony Brook University

  • PSEG Long Island

  • United Way of Long Island

  • United Veterans Beacon House

  • Northport VAMC Caregiver Support Program

  • Family Service League

  • Northport VA Medical Center

  • Warrior Ranch Foundation

  • Dwyer Project

  • Amazon

  • Catholic Health

  • Suffolk County Office for People with Disabilities

  • Island Harvest Food Bank

Amy Millheiser from the LI Veterans Suicide Prevention Coalition said, “We lose 17 veterans a day to suicide and one of the goals of this coalition is to improve connectedness among veterans and the organizations that support them. This event is an opportunity for organizations to come together to assist veterans in need and connect them with the resources both at the VA and in the community.”

“General Needs Ltd invites the local Suffolk County Veterans to participate in this uniquely collaborative event to learn about services, programs and resources available for them and their families.  It’s been wonderful to see all of the veteran agencies jumping onboard and working together to make this Stand Down/ Resource Day informative, supportive and  respectful. If you’re a vet, it may have been awhile since you’ve reached out for help.  Please come and walk through, take some information that you may need or want in the future. You’ve earned these benefits, please come, receive our thanks and take a step forward for yourself and your family,” said Lonnie & Susan Sherman, Founders of General Needs Ltd.

David Lyons, interim president and COO of PSEG Long Island said, “PSEG Long Island  understands the importance of helping our neighbors, especially our heroes in the veteran community. We are proud to partner with Suffolk County, the General Needs organization and National Grid to support this Stand Down event. Along with providing information on job opportunities in the utility industry and details of our money-saving programs and services, we are distributing new coats and boots, rainwear, socks and other winter essentials that will help our neighbors who served, be more comfortable in the coming months.”

To RSVP for this event please use the following link here or call (631) 853-8387. 

Scott Martella. File photo

Join Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for a blood drive in honor of Scott Martella on Thursday, Aug. 3  at both the H. Lee Dennison Building, 100 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge, and the Suffolk County Fire Academy, 103 East Ave. in Yaphank from 9:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. 

Martella, who was the Communications Director for Suffolk County, was killed in a three-car crash on the Long Island Expressway in Manorville in 2016 at the age of 29. 

“Scott Martella was one of the most dedicated public servants that I have had the pleasure to work with. He touched the lives of countless individuals and this year’s blood drive will help honor his passion for giving back and his commitment to serving others,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone.

To schedule an appointment, call 888-933-2566.

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Officer Yasmin Gallant with Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison has appointed Police Officer Yasmin Gallant as the department’s Latino Liaison Officer, a position aimed at continuing to build relationships between the department and Latino residents.

Officer Gallant has been a member of the department since 2017, most recently assigned as the Fifth Precinct’s Community Liaison Officer. In her new role, Officer Gallant, who is bilingual, will conduct proactive outreach with residents, businesses, schools, and houses of worship. She will regularly attend meetings and events.

Officer Gallant’s role will be two-fold—providing information to the community as well as listening to their concerns. She is available to help individuals understand their rights in domestics and landlord/tenant disputes, as well as provide direction on how to file a police report or a complaint and will meet regularly with Commissioner Harrison to relay any concerns or misinformation in the community and offer solutions to bridge the gap.

“Officer Gallant has already made a difference locally as a Community Liaison Officer as well as in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona where she brought supplies and volunteered to help residents,” Commissioner Harrison said. “She is the right person for this job as she brings understanding and knowledge and I believe the department’s relationships with the Latino community will become even stronger.”

“I am honored that Commissioner Harrison has assigned me to such an important, meaningful role,” Officer Gallant said. “My hope is to develop relationships between the department and the Latino community as well as keep lines of communication open. We are listening and we want to know what is happening in your community.”

“Building relationships between the Police Department and the residents it serves was one of the key components of the 2021 Suffolk County Police Reform and Reinvention plan,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “I commend Commissioner Harrison for continuing to implement the reforms of this plan and for appointing Officer Yasmin Gallant as our Latino Liaison Officer continuing to highlight the importance of fostering community relationships.”

A scene from 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl'

As part of Suffolk County’s Parks After Dark Series, Coindre Hall, 101 Browns Road in Huntington will host a special screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” under the stars on Friday, August 4 at sunset.

The series, sponsored by the county and the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, will continue with a screening of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” at Indian Island County Park, Indian Point Road in Riverhead on August 18.

“What better way to spend time with family and friends than enjoying a movie under the stars at one of our county parks,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The county’s Parks After Dark Series … will showcase iconic films that residents of all ages will enjoy.”

“The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers is happy to partner with County Executive Steve Bellone in sponsoring these exciting ‘Movies After Dark’ in … Suffolk County’s beautiful and illustrious parks,” said Robert Fonti, co-chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers. “These blockbuster movies will provide fun and an evening under the stars for all families in Suffolk. Looking forward to seeing you at the movies.”

Free tickets are available through Eventbrite. Moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages as well as blankets and chairs. Click here to reserve your seat.