Suffolk County police told the Huntington school board Monday night that violent crime in Huntington Station had been reduced 33 percent from last year.
The Second Precinct commanding officer, Inspector Edward Brady, accompanied by Chief Robert Anthony Moore, attributed the decrease to several techniques the department is using. Moore said the police had made "tremendous progress" in fighting crime near the vicinity of which the board decided in July to close classes because of concerns about crime in the neighborhood.
Moore said that much of the success is due to innovative ideas the precinct implemented over time, such the "sector within the sector concept," which deploys a patrol car, concentrating primarily on eight blocks surrounding Abrams.
"Our gang and gun control units have been working the area continually," Moore aid. They also work hand in hand with the FBI and other federal and state agencies, increasing their effectiveness.
"One of the benefits of working with the FBI is that they are very thorough. And because their focus is somewhat different than ours, they can really take their time" in investigating crime.
Another benefit of working with the FBI, Moore said, is that a federal punishment can mean much longer sentences for criminal activity committed locally, taking criminals out of the neighborhoods for longer periods of time.
Moore noted additional canine and emergency service patrols have been dispatched to the area.
Additionally, 30 video-monitoring cameras have been installed in Huntington Station.
In othe areas of Suffolk County, a new program using "shotspotter" technology has helped police locate where a gun has been discharged, by virtue of triangulation.
"There are now 65 areas in the country that employ this technology, and Huntington Station will be the 66th," said Moore.
Board vice president John P. Paci III asked the police officers about an apparent appearance of a police helicopter above Huntington village late in December.
Brady responded that he believed the helicopter was working a general patrol, and was not responding to any specific incident.
Board president Bill Dwyer asked the officers about the effectiveness of gun buy-back programs in Huntington Station. Brady said that such programs are not that productive, in his experience.
Moore said thathe was dismayed by the continued use of firearms, but believed that a more holistic approach to crime prevention shows better results – such as working with at-risk teens in the schools, and working with community organizations to speak to youth.
Board member Elizabeth Black asked about the number or arrests made in the proximity to Abrams.
Brady said while there are no specific numbers for the area around the school, "there were over 1,300 arrests made in Huntington Station from January 1, 2010 to November 30th," including 80 gang members who had also been arrested during this time period, including 20 members of the Latin Kings.
Moore noted that while Huntington Station indeed has difficulty with local gangs, the problems here are nowhere as bad as they are in places like Southern California, Arizona, and Texas.
Board member Kimberly Brown asked how long the increased police presence would continue.
Moore responded that his precinct has no thoughts of reducing police presence for this area. Brown insisted that she does not want to see police leave the area surrounding the school.
When Brady and Moore were finally asked, "would you send your children to this school?," they both replied with a resounding "yes."
Editor's note: this story has been updated to correct that the number of sites using ShotSpotters refers to the country, not the county.