By GREGORY ZELLER //
With bullets and Second Amendment battles ricocheting around the nation, one Long Island village where gun violence is a too-frequent reality is getting some much-needed reinforcements.
Trumpeting both increased manpower and new technological advances, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared in the Village of Hempstead Tuesday to announce short- and long-term strategies for policing in the village, where the gun problem is “not unique,” the governor lamented, “but may be worse” than in some national corners.
Joined by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Village of Hempstead Mayor Don Ryan and a cadre of other elected officials, Cuomo outlined a short-term strategy wherein New York State Police and Nassau County Police Department officers will “supplement” Village of Hempstead Police Department patrols, instantly putting more blue on Hempstead’s mean streets.
The multi-department increase, which took effect Friday, is slated to last 30 days but may be extended if successful.
“More Nassau County Police to assist village police,” Cuomo said at Tuesday’s press conference. “New York State police will also provide more personnel and more patrols in the village.
“Short term, there will be more of a police presence,” he added. “And I believe that will be an immediate positive.”
According to a NeighborhoodScout Crime Analysis, Hempstead Village suffers one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, with an average of about six violent crimes per 1,000 residents – and a geographic crime rate of 251 crimes (including violent and property crimes) per square mile, more than six times the New York average.
And in an era of unrestrained gun violence – highlighted by Saturday’s massacres in Texas and Ohio, and an unholy 47 shooting victims racked up this past weekend in separate Chicago incidents – it seems to be only a matter of time until large-scale tragedy strikes the crime-ridden village, according to its mayor.
Noting he’s “Hempstead-born, Hempstead-bred and, when I die, I’ll be Hempstead dead,” Ryan took to the podium Tuesday to express gratitude for the “joint strategy” that will see the village, county and state “work together to make this as safe a community as possible.”
“There are too many guns on the streets,” the mayor added. “Too many shots fired. Too many homicides. And it saddens us.”
Published reports count six shooting homicides in Hempstead Village in 2019, in addition to two other shooting incidents.
Curran, who also saluted the “shared mission” between Albany, Nassau County and the village to beef up public safety, said the supplemental-patrol plan – including participation of the State Police – came together nicely after regional lawmakers reached out to Cuomo’s office.
“We asked, and the governor quickly delivered,” the county executive said.
The governor returned Curran’s compliment by calling her a “proactive official” and agreed with Ryan that the primary problem in the village – one of several Long Island neighborhoods where the notorious MS-13 gang has staked a claim – is guns.
“Guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns,” Cuomo said. “Gang violence. And it’s unacceptable.”
Noting that “Job No. 1 for the mayor, for the executive, for the county, for myself, is public safety,” the governor also highlighted the longer-term phases of the new policing plan, including “smarter and more sophisticated” use of technology and coordinated strategy.
“Advancements in the technology of policing are extraordinary,” he said. “The use of license plate-reading machines, the use of social media, it’s all part of a comprehensive strategy.
“The state and the county are working with the village to develop new technology sophistication and new comprehensive training,” Cuomo added. “We will make sure the men and women of law enforcement have the best training available.
“And most importantly, we’ll be doing it together – coordinating resources, coordinating knowledge, coordinating strategies.”
Each of the lawmakers at the podium also took a moment to commend the Village of Hempstead Police Department and other law enforcers who “go out and do a job few of us could do,” according to Cuomo.
“It is frightening and dangerous out there, and they go out every day and do it,” the governor said. “And we should thank them, and God bless them.”