Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder has officially kicked into gear his Community Council, a police task force with a subdivision in each of the county’s 19 legislative districts.
Commissioner Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran worked with the legislators to select residents who “have a finger on the pulse of their communities,” Curran said. On April 9 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, a room full of residents were sworn into their positions.
Crime in Nassau County has decreased by 30 percent since 2010, according to Ryder, who credited this to the county’s modern policing initiatives, including its task forces and community programs aimed at solving crises like gang violence and the opioid epidemic. However, an issue that affects one community may not affect another, he said, and the interests of each community must be kept in mind to ensure the best policing practices.
The members of the community council have agreed to volunteer their times to address the specific issues plaguing their community. They will be meeting with county police and their legislator, periodically, to develop plans of action and discuss what can be done to curb local crime. Eventually, an executive community council will be chosen to oversee the other 19 groups.
“When you speak to people from different communities, that’s when you start to understand each other’s cultures and understand what the needs are for each community,” Ryder said. “And that’s what we intend to do with this community council.”
Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads who covers Wantagh and most of the Seaford community said his nominees represent civic associations, business leaders, current or former police, Fire/EMS providers, school board members, clergy and moms and dads’ Facebook pages.
“The Council will be an excellent way for the police to learn about quality of life and other issues within specific communities that need attention while, at the same time, brainstorming about ways the police and community can work together to combat them,” Rhoads said.
Chris Carini of Seaford, nominated to the council by Rhoads, said residents in his area should voice concerns on the Neighborhood Watch Facebook group he maintains, but now these concerns can be brought directly to the Police Commissioner. “The biggest issue facing our community is the opioid epidemic,” he said. “It’s going to be great to have a resource directly to the Commissioner’s office, and I know he takes this issue very personally.” Carini added that Seaford, like other communities, has quality of life and crime prevention issues as well.
Ella Stevens of Wantagh said concerns like the Jones Beach Hotel, school security and the opioid epidemic that is destroying Long Island neighborhoods are all issues she plans to bring to the forefront. “This will make it easier for us to exchange ideas or possible solutions,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the direction this takes and how we can approach these issues.”
Brian Kelty of Levittown said he was honored when Legislator John Ferretti asked for his participation. “I look forward to working with the Nassau PD as well as my fellow Council members,” Kelty said. “I’m hopeful the Community Council can act as the eyes and ears of the entire County and work cohesively with the Police Department to continue to maintain Nassau County as an excellent place to live and raise a family.”
Kerry Johnson-Gravina of Levittown said the opportunity afforded Council members will greatly improve communications and life safety concerns within our community and our local precinct. “Advocacy for both our residents and the NCPD is paramount, especially for the senior citizens and those individuals who may not have a voice or an “ear” on social media,’ she said. “This program should present itself to educate, protect and provide a level of trust not otherwise known in the past – a mutually positive outcome.”