The Old Westbury Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night concluded with a presentation that outlined the goals the village police department should pursue.
The board decided in April to have RedLand Strategies evaluate its police department. The results presented to the board urged increased police presence, administrative system changes, better overtime management and improved resident communication.
RedLand is a consultancy company with expertise in media relations, emergency management and homeland security. The group said in a March proposal to the village that alongside fiscal responsibility, they would assess the best use of technology, data collection and crime prevention for the department.
Senior Vice President James Sherry and President Michael Balboni, a former state senator, made the presentation.
Balboni emphasized the county’s recent increase in crime. During his remarks, he said Old Westbury has characteristics that make it a desirable location for criminals.
“You have the proximity to major roadways — on and off,” he said. “Second is the nature of the village. Beautiful homes, setbacks, beautiful grounds — great places to hide. No one’s suggesting to change that. But when you’re in patrol mode, sometimes it’s very difficult to see who’s in the dark. It makes it harder to do that kind of patrol, which is why the recommendations that we present and the things the police force is already doing are very important.”
He said that the most important lesson he had learned was that villages and their citizens must work together to ensure public safety.
Afterward, Sherry began summarizing their findings. He said they would publish and share the report publicly soon. As of presstime, they have not released it.
The first suggestion was to increase police visibility in residential areas. He said the Long Island Expressway accounts for 40% of the accident cases to which the department responds, which is a “drain on resources.”
The second was to upgrade the current surveillance equipment. Although license plate scanners and cameras already exist in the village, he said they may “easily be defeated.”
“We have to be sober about their limitations and maybe supplement those with some high-resolution cameras that would capture more than license plates and key strategic locations,” he said.
The third suggestion is related to the administrative technologies used. He said the current system was acceptable, but advised looking into alternative systems.
The final two suggestions dealt with overtime hours and community engagement.
Sherry said their data reveals a consistent upward trend of overtime, which shows a “too permissive atmosphere.” He also said they should document the denial of overtime or changes to the requested staffing level more thoroughly.
With outreach, he stressed the importance of the village continuing to increase resident communication.
“If you don’t tell the public what you’re doing, they will assume you are doing nothing,” said Sherry. “It’s very important when crime does occur, if there are patterns that become knowable, without compromising privacy or investigation, that information should be shared.”
He continued by saying that the town was already doing a good job in this area. He credited this to their website and app, both of which alert locals to events when they happen.
The next meeting will be on Sep. 19 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.