05/22/15 6:01am
05/22/2015 6:01 AM
Officer Montalnano walks his beat on East Main Street last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Officer Anthony Montalbano walks his beat on East Main Street last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Last year, a string of violent robberies targeting Hispanic and homeless residents in downtown Riverhead catapulted the town’s relationship with its Spanish-speaking communities back onto the front pages.

But despite the high-profile incidents that had some questioning the safety of Riverhead, year-round data compiled by the Riverhead Police Department tells a bit of a different story.

According to a monthly report recently released by the department, the total number of reported criminal incidents — especially drunken driving and drug possession — dropped in 2014 compared to the previous year. The report states that 3,447 incidents were documented by police last year, down from 3,502 in 2013.

That decrease continues an overall trend of fewer reported criminal incidents in the past decade, despite a growing population in Riverhead Town.

“The police department is doing a fabulous job,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who also serves as the town’s police commissioner. “Obviously, these past two weeks downtown we had some painful events. Hopefully that’s an anomaly.”

National trends show that fewer serious crimes have been reported nationwide during the same period.

Among the larger drops in reported incidents in Riverhead Town were driving under the influence arrests, down to 174 in 2014 from 209 in 2013. Incidents of drug possession and sales were also reportedly down from 101 in 2013 to 83 last year.

Car theft, burglaries and robberies were also down, according to the data.

The only criminal incidents to increase were larcenies, up slightly; two more rapes in 2014 and one more prostitution arrest than in 2013. More motor vehicle accidents were also reported in 2014 — a total of 2,169 — though there were slightly fewer fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Mr. Walter said the drop in criminal incidents is thanks to some “tremendous enforcement” by the department.

“From the police chief through the captain to the rank-and-file patrol officers in the sector cars, this is a testament to the work they do for this town,” Mr. Walter said.

psquire@timesreview.com

05/20/15 2:24pm
05/20/2015 2:24 PM
ATTORNEY GENERAL COURTESY | Ravinder Parkash, 59, pleaded guilty to a food stamp scam in January. His wife also reportedly pleaded guilty.

ATTORNEY GENERAL COURTESY | Ravinder Parkash, 59, pleaded guilty to a food stamp scam in January. His wife also reportedly pleaded guilty.

The owner of a Riverhead gas station and convenience store was sentenced to up to four years in prison for stealing more than $668,000 from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over a four-year period. (more…)

05/20/15 12:29am

An unlicensed Southampton man was arrested Saturday in Flanders and charged with drunk driving, Southampton Town police said.

Juan Fajardo, 35, was pulled over after police observed him driving in the center turning lane on Flanders Road shortly before 9 p.m., officials said.

Mr. Fajardo was charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, refusing to take a Breathalyzer test and other traffic infractions, police said.

He was transported to police headquarters and held for arraignment, officials said.

05/18/15 5:06pm
05/18/2015 5:06 PM
Riverhead Police Officer Rick Anderson weighing and packaging 102 pounds of drugs collected at the Take-Back Drive-Through event. (Credit: Courtesy)

Riverhead Police Officer Rick Anderson weighing and packaging 102 pounds of drugs collected at the Take-Back Drive-Through event. (Credit: Courtesy)

The Riverhead Police Department collected 102 pounds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs at the first annual Drug Take-Back Drive-Through Event on Saturday at police department headquarters.

Coordinated by the Riverhead Community Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Youth, the event builds on the department’s recent addition of a permanent drug drop box last August. This drop box is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (more…)