At Tuesday night’s monthly Second Precinct community meeting, officers discussed New York State’s Move Over Law, recent arrests and incidents. The community attendees, most over the age of 50, had concerns and questions about students vaping in high schools and middle schools.
Inspector Christopher Hatton, commanding officer of the Second Precinct, introduced Deputy Inspector Regina, Commanding Officer of Suffolk County’s Highway Patrol. Regina described incidents when officers carrying out traffic stops or, who were pulled over to assist stopped vehicles, were hit from behind.
Regina expressed confusion since this law has been in effect for more than six years but acknowledged that people may not know about it. He asked attendees to “spread the word.” An attendee suggested the use of a slogan such as the one used to communicate New York State’s 1984 seat belt law, “click it or ticket.” Regina also connected lack of compliance to the lag of compliance seen after the advent of the seat belt law.
“Secondary accidents are a big problem on our roadways. The safest places to be when you’ve been in an accident is in your car as it will serve as a protective barrier,” Regina said. If you are in a minor fender bender, if your car can be driven safely and if you are uninjured, Regina implored that you move your vehicle to a safe place. Many people are under the impression that you should wait for law enforcement before moving your vehicle, Regina explained. This is not the case, as an officer can almost always tell what happened by hearing accounts of the accident and by looking at the vehicle(s).
Hatton summarized recent Huntington incidents:
- A man exposes himself to children at a Greenlawn skate park. The man was charged and likely mentally ill, Hatton said.
- Armed thieves steal $100,000 in cellphones from a Melville AT&T. The Brooklyn men had stolen cell phones in this manner several times previously and two suspects were arrested in Monticello after they did it again.
- A plainclothes officer under 21 purchases e-liquid nicotine at three stores in Huntington. Seven other stores in Huntington did not sell to the officer.
- Ten-year-old boy from Greenlawn goes missing and is found. The boy had just moved to the area with his family and went to the house of a neighbor without telling his parents. The mother of the neighbor was working an overnight shift and the child was being watched by a 17-year old babysitter. The boy falsely told the babysitter that he had asked to sleepover and that it was okay. When the mother returned the next morning she sent the boy home.
- Greenlawn man involved in a single vehicle crash dies on scene. Hatton attributed the accident to possible distracted driving.
- Woman steals a dog from Petite Pets. The dog was returned and the pet store did not press charges.
- WWII plane crashes in Melville, killing the pilot. The plane was flown by a 52-year-old man who flew Geico skywriting planes and was a naval aviator. The F.A.A. is investigating the crash.
- A man steals from an elderly woman exiting a Dunkin’ Donuts on June 1. A passerby watched the man leave the scene, throw his hood and the woman’s purse and keep the woman’s $25, Hatton said. The passerby alerted police and the man was arrested.
- Sean Riley, 32, is arrested in Commack on May 23. Police discover marijuana, L.S.D., cocaine and a bulletproof vest Hatton said.
Community members expressed their frustration with “vapes,” in particular, the Juul, which looks like a flash drive. Some reported that kids smoke them in the bathroom at school or in classrooms by exhaling under their shirts. This can go unnoticed by teachers because the vapor often smells like perfume. The Juul has a high dose of nicotine and when kids smoke it, attendees said, they report feeling light-headed, calling this symptom “nic-sick.” T.H.C. cartridges can also be used in vaporizers and Hatton said that as far as he knows, the Second Precinct does not test vaporizers for T.H.C.
Some attendees want police to confiscate e-liquid apparatus from retailers who have sold to minors. Hatton said this is difficult because until the court process has been completed, these retailers are “not really guilty.” Other attendees said that kids can easily order vapes online. Some attendees said schools should educate students and parents on the dangers of vaping. One attendee said that Walt Whitman High School hosted Huntington Drug and Alcohol to educate parents on vaping and on what vapes look like. Hatton said that this education should start with parents.
The next Second Precinct Community Meeting is at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10 at the Second Precinct.