In the wake of a rash of car break-ins in Flanders and a fatal shooting that occurred two nights ago in neighboring Riverside, local civic groups are planning to head to next week’s Town Board meeting and tell their elected officials something: They have had enough.
“It’s bubbling over now in terms of anger,” said Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association. “And at this point, some people don’t even call the police, because why bother?”
Residents were on edge last week when Southampton Police have reported that upwards of 60 cars have been broken into in Flanders over the past few months. After a man was shot and killed in his car on Old Quogue Road on Tuesday night, locals with both FRNCA and the Bayview Pines Civic Association plan on asking the town to allocate more funds to the town police department.
While town leaders have told locals police presence has been increased in the area, some have said they aren’t noticing it.
“What we’re being appeased with is not matching what we’re seeing,” said Ron Fisher, president of Bayview Pines. “I’m not upset with the police. I’m upset with the quantity and the amount of money being allocated to police.”
Mr. Fisher said that in broad daylight this week, he was solicited by a prostitute while getting the mail at his mother’s house.
For the 32-year-old who grew up in Flanders and has lived in the hamlet for almost his entire life, the incident is reflective of one that shows a different time in the area he’s known all his life.
“It’s absolutely worse [than when I grew up],” he said.
At the last Town Board meeting on Nov. 10, Susan Tocci spoke publicly about crime in Flanders.
“I’m asking for the Town Board to do something to help Southampton Police Department,” she said.
Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said on Thursday that to deal with issues in the short-term, the department has added an additional squad car at night — a combination of adding another officer to the area, and sometimes pulling a squad car from another sector. In addition, she said the town is working with the county and state to patrol the area.
Over the long term, she said that both hamlets will benefit to an ongoing revitalization effort that is in the works in Riverside, called Riverside Rediscovered.
“That revitalization effort is one of the most comprehensive efforts, top to bottom, the island has ever seen,” she said. “And the fact that it is situated right there in what is an area that needs it more than anywhere else on Long Island is what will begin to truly improve what has been a deterioration of that area.”
Bayview Pines also started an online petition to demand that State Police keep its dispatcher located in Riverside. The state had been considering moving the position to Farmingdale to allow that officer to patrol the area.
“With all of this awful stuff going on, how do you propose a reduction of any kind?” Mr. Taldone asked.
Next Tuesday’s Town Board meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Town Hall, at 116 Hampton Road.