The Commander of Nassau County Police’s Third Precinct, John Berry, attempted to allay the fears of East Hills residents at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, following two weeks of burglaries in the normally tranquil North Shore village.
“Any crime in our community is unacceptable and deplorable,” Village Mayor Michael Koblenz said. “Crime is unfortunate, but you cannot make it go away. Keep in mind, our crime rate is very, very low.”
In his presentation, Berry said East Hills has seen under 10 burglaries in the past three years. He offered similar suggestions the Mayor and trustees have been sharing with residents, including leaving home lights on and setting alarms, but ultimately residents need to pay attention to their surroundings.
“Its one thing for us to say crime is low, but for the inspector to let us know, that’s what you need,” Village Attorney William Burton said.
Berry added that the biggest help to the police department would be for residents to pay attention and speak up when they notice something out of the ordinary.
“We do everything we can and are always trying to do more, but people need to pay attention,” Berry said. “You know your community best, so we need your help. Its up to the community to be more watchful, more aware of surroundings and call us to come down.”
Residents expressed their concerns with the recent crimes, occurring only a week apart, and the how the village has responded so far.
One resident said she was upset with the board’s response and wanted more definite action to be taken.
“This has nothing to do with lights, we need answers today,” she said. “The village should have answers.”
Other residents offered suggestions to the board including installing video cameras, license plate readers, street lights, and even the addition of a private police force for the village.
Koblenz said the cost of these measures would need to be researched, and that no matter what the Village does some people might not be happy.
“We thought about adding a mandatory lighting requirement, but when we added street lights some people complained they were too bright. You’re not going to please everyone,” he said.
He added that crime is unavoidable, and that he doesn’t “want anyone to have a false sense of security.”
In an attempt to broaden then village’s current security measures, the board appointed three volunteers, Steve Mussman, Mark Spector and Donna Friedman to join the East Hills security commission to investigate the costs and benefits of different options.
“This is an intense project because we want to get something done, we have to move forward, look at the situation and do something,” Koblenz said.
When asked about introducing cameras and additional lighting, Berry said its up to the village to decide.
“These things would certainly help, but it depends how the village wants to handle it,” he said.
“We can’t say we’re going to put in cameras and not know the cost,” Burton said in an interview after the meeting. “We’ve been looking into this the past three years, and the cost of these things has fallen dramatically. The reason it wasn’t pushed at the time is because it was well over $1,000,000 to implement.”
The Village currently has a small police precinct located at the entrance of the village park, with three dedicated patrol cars, numbers 620, 621 and 622, as well as signage alerting commuters of the local police presence. The village also has an active Public Safety department that patrols the surrounding areas, but can only contact Nassau County Police regarding any incidents.
Another resident, who asked not to be identified, said he agreed with Inspector Berry that people need to be more alert and inform police of what they see.
He said that the residents “need to let them do their jobs, and assume they know what they’re doing.”