06/04/15 11:05am
06/04/2015 11:05 AM
Guardian Angels members spent their patrol introducing themselves to the public and handing out informational pamphlets. (Credit: Guardian Angels)

Guardian Angels members spent their patrol introducing themselves to the public and handing out informational pamphlets. (Credit: Guardian Angels)

The Angels stood their ground, and the panhandlers near the Riverhead train station “scattered.”

So said Benjamin Garcia, the patrol director for the NYC Guardian Angels, an anti-crime group that took to the downtown area for patrols Wednesday afternoon into the night. (more…)

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

05/16/15 6:00am
05/16/2015 6:00 AM
A Riverhead police officer walks the beat downtown on Monday night. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A Riverhead police officer walks the beat downtown on Monday night. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Editor’s note: This story was published in Thursday’s paper, before an arrest was made in relation to the downtown robberies.

On Monday morning, Francine Smith was walking past the Suffolk Theater, newly purchased gift in hand. It’s a route along Main Street she’s familiar with, having lived in Riverhead for the past 17 years.

But once the sun sets, she’ll be back inside. She and her husband don’t want to risk going out, she said.

“I wouldn’t come down here at nights, to be honest,” Ms. Smith said. (more…)

05/14/15 8:00am
05/14/2015 8:00 AM

Police1_BE_R

We don’t need another robbery or a similar incident possibly related to gang activity as evidence that downtown Riverhead has a problem with crime. It has plagued the area for years, and it’s worth noting that, unfortunately, downtown Riverhead is not the only place in Suffolk County that could use, for lack of a better phrase, some cleaning up. It’s also worth admitting that crime can never be completely eliminated there or anywhere else.

(more…)

05/14/15 7:19am
Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)

Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)

In the wake of a rash of crimes downtown over the past week, an East End Drug Task Force bust on Third Street resulted in the arrest of four men and one woman on Wednesday.

Police said “numerous neighborhood complaints about illegal narcotic activity” had been filed, resulting in an investigation and the recovery of heroin, crack and MDMA which were taken yesterday around 4:45 p.m.  (more…)

05/13/15 5:46pm
05/13/2015 5:46 PM

Is Main Street safe? No it is not. There are many factors that lead to this dilemma, just as there are many solutions needed to correct it. Let’s start with the recent rash of armed robberies. Downtown businesses are struggling to begin with, and they work very hard at becoming part of the success story that this town truly needs for its revitalization. Having armed thugs walk into a business and forcibly demand money is an extremely frightening and dangerous situation for any local business owner. Just ask Barth’s Drug Store. There needs to be more police presence downtown – period.  This does not mean simply enlisting one part time police officer to walk around. It means confronting the problem with fully trained professional police officers, properly equipped to handle this growing problem. (more…)

05/13/15 1:27pm
The Guardian Angels are expected to begin recruiting downtown next week, though Town Board members believe their presence will send the wrong message to potential visitors. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Guardian Angels are expected to begin recruiting downtown next week, though Town Board members believe their presence will send the wrong message to potential visitors. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Barth’s Pharmacy has stood on East Main Street since 1917 -— and in nearly all that time, no one has robbed the store.

But that changed in the past three years, during which the business has twice been targeted by armed robbers. The most recent incident occurred Friday, when a masked man burst into the store, held a gun to an employee’s neck and took off with an unspecified amount of cash, said owner Barry Barth.

“Nobody was physically hurt and that’s a good thing, but the mental anguish and the fear of having someone coming to your place of business with a handgun to rob you is overwhelming,” Mr. Barth told the News-Review. “We just went through this two years ago. You try to put this behind you and then it rears its ugly head again.” (more…)

10/11/14 8:28am
10/11/2014 8:28 AM
The scene Saturday morning on East Avenue in Riverhead near where a 19-year-old was shot twice. (Credit: Rachel Young)

The scene Saturday morning on East Avenue in Riverhead near where a 19-year-old man was shot twice. (Credit: Rachel Young)

UPDATE: The 19-year-old Riverhead man who police said was shot twice in the back Friday night as he was walking home on East Avenue is in critical condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson said Saturday afternoon.

ORIGINAL STORY: A 19-year-old Riverhead man was shot twice in the back Friday night as he was walking home on East Avenue, Riverhead police said.

(more…)