North Hempstead hosts safety and security forum for Great Neck residents

North Hempstead hosts safety and security forum for Great Neck residents
Government and law enforcement officials from Nassau County and North Hempstead held a public safety and security forum in Great Neck on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and members of the recently-opened 6th Precinct advised Great Neck residents on ways to keep themselves and their homes safe in the aftermath of two Saddle Rock burglaries.

The discussion with more than 20 Great Neck residents was initiated by the Town of North Hempstead and was held at the Saddle Rock Elementary School on Wednesday night.

Ryder was joined by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, North Hempstead Councilwomen Veronica Lurvey and Lee Seeman, North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink, and Great Neck Estates Mayor William Warner.

Topics ranged from residential safety, protecting residential properties, and enforcement for traffic on areas such as Middle Neck Road.

Ryder began the discussion citing some of the benefits of living in Nassau County from a crime prevention standpoint.

“Since 2010, major crime in Nassau County has gone down by more than 30 percent,” he told the crowd of more than 20 Great Neck residents. “Our burglaries that used to run around 2,000 per year, we had only 305 last year.”

Ryder noted two of those burglaries were in Saddle Rock.  Police arrested two Chilean men who were allegedly part of a larger crime ring that targeted wealthy homes throughout the north shore, according to Ryder.

Saddle Rock Mayor Dan Levy’s house was burglarized prior to the arrest of the two men.  According to officials, more than $100,000 worth of collectible coins and family mementos were stolen from Levy’s home.

“I want to thank you guys for all that you did,” Levy said. “Unfortunately, as I know [Ryder] has said, those guys are probably back in Chile having a laugh on the beach right now.”

According to Ryder, the two men, among others since Jan. 1, have avoided appearing to their respective court dates due to the state’s new bail reform laws.

“Until there are some changes to these laws, we all have to be more aware of our surroundings,” Ryder said.  “The problem is, these people rotate every day on 90 days visa, they view specific instructions on where to go, and get educated on these targets.”

When asked if the county could work with other law enforcement organizations to combat recent crime outbreaks, Ryder said those other organizations do not work on the same type of schedule the county does.

“Organizations like the FBI or ICE work at a different pace than we require them to,” Ryder said. “We can’t always be at the mercy of their schedules, so we have to do what we can.  If something is big enough, rest assured we know who to contact.”

Ryder told residents to take precautions such as leaving a light and radio on and to notify neighbors if a home was to be uninhabited at some point throughout the night.  He touted the modern-day security systems and applications such as Ring and the Rave Guardian App.

“I’m not here to promote any specific product, but I highly recommend any added layer of security to people’s lives,” Ryder said. “Those products allow you to monitor your home on your phone, and to safely contact law enforcement wherever you may be in a discreet way.”

The conversation shifted slightly when several members of the audience said there is a lack of traffic enforcement on Middle Neck Road, a county-owned road.

“There is simply not enough police presence along Middle Neck Road, especially in areas with pedestrian crosswalks,” one resident said. “It’s actually shocking to see what some drivers get away with there.”

Nassau County Department of Public Works officials found that intersections off of Middle Neck Road see more crashes per million vehicles than the statewide average according to a 2019 traffic study.

“I hear your concerns and I promise you will see a difference in our presence starting tomorrow,” Ryder said.

Inspector Robert Fitchett implored residents to keep in constant communication with law enforcement to prevent further crimes from occurring in the Great Neck area.

“We need all of you, just like you all need us,” Fitchett said.  “We know what we know, but there will obviously be times where a resident could see something right away.  We need you to tell us what’s going on.”

“We are very blessed to live in a county with historic crime lows,” Curran said. “I would like to thank the Nassau County Police Department for all of their hard work and taking the time to educate our Great Neck community.”

Lurvey, a Great Neck resident, said she was pleased to spearhead this event and spoke on the importance of having a dialogue between residents and government officials.

“Holding this event has been a priority to me for a while,” Lurvey said. “I really pushed for this event to be in Great Neck so all of the residents could hear first hand from the police officers that protect our areas.”

Bosworth, who resides in Great Neck, said she feels “extremely comfortable” with the county’s law enforcement officials protecting her and other residents in the town.

“The dedication of these hard-working individuals does not, and will not go unnoticed,” Bosworth said. “I wake up every morning grateful to have them keeping our safety as their highest priority.”

Seeman, who is the town’s representative for its 5th District which encompasses Great Neck, said she was also pleased to have this event available for local residents.

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