The Levittown Property Owners Association met on Dec. 12, 2006 with President Jim Morrow presiding. We were addressed by guest speakers from the Nassau County Police Department, the commanding officer of the 8th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Michael P. Cronin, accompanied by Police Officer Tom Murphy and Police Officer Paul Lamonaca.
Inspector Cronin opened his remarks by stressing the importance of direct meetings with groups such as the LPOA, to learn of our concerns and issues, and to be made aware of "when we come up short." He offered a brief biographical background: as a police officer for 25 years, he began in New York City, served on patrol duties, with personnel and accounting, at the police academy, as a special operator, and has served the 8th Precinct for one year.
The Inspector stated that the Levittown community is the largest one served by the 8th Precinct, which also covers the communities of Hicksville, Farmingdale and South Farmingdale, Plainview, Bethpage and Old Bethpage, and North Massapequa and North Seaford. "In the past four years the precinct has been using a tracking system (the same as NYC) to track what's going on, and to address smaller problems before they can become bigger ones." The Nassau County Police Department has 2600 sworn members, with more civilians now in office jobs, "enabling officers to better stay on target." He continued: "2005-2006 was a good year because major crime areas were down; there were no homicides, 5 rapes (domestic or dates); residential burglaries were down 37 percent - from 116 last year to 71 this year; but commercial burglaries were up (stores, restaurants, salons, cellular phones); stolen vehicles were down - from 100 last year to 92 this year, with Honda Civics the most stolen as they are easier to start; grand larcenies were down 2 percent with 357 this year. The 8th Precinct was the only precinct with reduced crimes, which Inspector Cronin credited to the diligence of its officers. There are 171 patrol cars on day duty with 18 on duty at night. Most of these statistics were projected onto a screen shown to the audience.
Inspector Cronin advised that citizens can help the police by: "not leaving valuables in cars, watching your purse and wallet while shopping, knowing your surroundings, calling 911 on suspicious activity, or making a noise." He added that it's "not bothering the cops to call when help is needed." As for graffiti, considered "a criminal activity," he said his officers are working on the "RWK" letters that appear frequently in the area. In this precinct, Cronin says "kids are some of the biggest problems - by hanging out, drinking, senseless stuff such as tire and car damage, etc." He added that it's better to call 911, not the 8th Precinct number, for help.
Some audience questions included: parking on the wrong side of a street, or commercial parking in residential areas, pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Jerusalem-Gardiners Avenue on Hempstead Turnpike with drivers turning on red not allowing pedestrians to cross; remodeling or building work stoppage on weekends; the "demolition derby" at MacArthur High School, at the 2 p.m. dismissal; parking in "no parking" zones; disregard for STOP signs. Inspector Cronin said all these issues "need enforcement" and "enforcer cops" go to locations when called. As for weekend building, officers respond to complaints as a special permit is needed. They work with parents when kids are involved, and "hope kids learn from mistakes."
Officer Paul Lamonaca then took over the discussion, focusing on enforcement of the Sex Offender Registration or Megan's Law. He provided the Megan's Law website: www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us, accessible to the public from the N.Y. State Division of Criminal Justice. Lamonaca stated: "There are 4 classes of offenders: 1) low risk of repeat offense; 2) moderate risk of repeat offense; 3) high risk of repeat offense; and 4) pending. One and two must register once a year, require a photo every three years; three must register every 90 days, be thumbprinted, have a photo ID once a year. The Division of Criminal Justice notifies local police departments, with large villages monitoring their own and small towns registering offenders with Nassau County.
Lamonaca continued his remarks by stating Nassau County passed a law in June 2006 that level 3 offenders must live 1,000 feet from a school boundary line and 500 feet from a park. If they lived closer before, they are given 60 days to move. SPIN (Security Police Information Network) notifies schools of offenders' locations. The "scoring system" defines level three offenders as using force or violence to hurt someone, level one as using the Internet or photos. There is a national computerized system on which a level three must be registered lifetime, and they must register if they move to another state. They are on a tracking device system and must be in their house for certain hours.
After the police speakers left, questions from the audience were directed to our Town Councilman, Gary Hudes. Most concerned the issue of group homes located in Levittown. The Councilman promised to supply us with lists of locations of group homes in Levittown and other communities in the Town of Hempstead. He noted that in his seven years in office, he has had only one complaint on group homes as neighbors - loud singing. He said the group homes residents are handicapped, but often do service jobs and activities such as deliver food to the homebound. The homes are extremely well kept, he added, and supply a need. He said the town attorney whose specialty is group homes will be in touch with us.
The next meeting of the LPOA will be on Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Levittown Public Library.