No need to fear for Five Towns residents

To help ease these concerns, Legislator Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside) along with the Nassau County Police Department, coordinated a special security meeting last Thursday night.
“Recent events in the Middle East have once again raised concerns about security here at home and while there is no reason to believe that an organized threat exists, I want to assure you that the Nassau County Police Department remains diligent in their efforts to ensure the safety of our residents,” Toback said in a letter to local residents.
At this meeting, held at the JCC of the Greater Five Towns, police officials gave residents a reason to breathe a collective sigh of relief about the on-goings on the home front. Representatives from the Fourth Precinct addressed the religious and government leaders in attendance about security concerns and reviewed safety measures that are normally employed during the holidays. Officers from the Nassau County Police Department also informed residents of their role in protecting citizens from bias attacks and terrorist threats.
“The Five Towns currently has no active or direct threats in terms of terrorism or hate crimes,” Fourth Precinct Deputy Inspector Kenneth Hettler said. He also reported that major crime is down six percent from last year within the Fourth Precinct, which covers Inwood, Cedarhurst, Lawrence, Woodmere, Hewlett, Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Neck, East Rockaway, Oceanside, Island Park, Atlantic Beach, Lido Beach and Point Lookout.
“The meeting was informative for the community,” Toback said. “It was important for everybody to hear that there are no terrorist threats and that crime is down in the area this year."“
William McHale, chief of patrol strategies, believes the Fourth Precinct has been successful due to the number of cars it has on the streets and the great knowledge the officers have of the area, but thinks area residents need to play a role as well. “We urge people to call their local precinct if they see something suspicious in the area,” McHale said. “That is always the best thing to do if there is a circumstance that needs police presence.”
The Auxiliary Police Five Towns Unit was credited by the police for helping keep the crime rate down. “We are proud to be the eyes and ears of the Five Towns by helping keep crime down,” said Commanding Officer Lt. Danny Gluck. “By having 15 officers on patrol, this gives us an opportunity to spread ourselves out throughout the Five Towns and be on the lookout for anything suspicious.”
Many residents remain concerned about safety in the Five Towns, but think meetings like this can only help. “I loved that the police department is interacting with the community regarding our specific needs that we face like bias, anti-Semitism and terrorist threats,” said Mark Kagan, president of Congregation Bais Ephraim in Woodmere. “It's good to hear that there are no serious threats and that the police are meeting these issues head on.”
According to the police department, hate crimes are down 30 percent in Nassau County, which has the lowest crime rate in the country for a county with a population of over 1 million residents. But Detective Sergeant Gary Shapiro, supervisor of the community affairs unit and the coordinator for departmental bias crime, is always on the look out for bias attacks as hate crimes of anti-Semitic nature remain a common occurrence on Long Island. “Hate crimes are a reality due to the demographics that make up Long Island,” Shapiro said.
The police department recommends that citizens sign up for the Nassau County Security/Police Information Network, or SPIN. This program shares information, identifies crime trends and solutions, and works to protect the safety of people and their assets. SPIN members are contacted by e-mail of situations as they occur like bank robberies, disruptions in public transportation, major fires, civil disturbance, weather-related emergencies, or any other situations involving public safety. In addition, Sex Offender Registry notifications are sent to vulnerable entities using SPIN.
Many residents think the more information the community has, the better off the Five Towns is. “I want to thank the police department for working so hard to keep our community safe and secure,” said Rabbi Zalman Wolowik, of Chabad of the Five Towns. “They shared a positive message that we live in a secure world and that we should act in goodness and kindness.”
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