02/13/15 3:14pm
02/13/2015 3:14 PM

Longtime Riverhead Town Justice Richard Ehlers will not be seeking re-election this fall.

Mr. Ehlers, who has been in office for 28 years, said he told his staff of his decision to not seek reelection on Tuesday and then notified the Riverhead Republican Committee at their meeting on Wednesday night. (more…)

09/27/14 2:00pm
09/27/2014 2:00 PM

There were 467 cases on the docket in Riverhead Town Justice Richard Ehlers’ court Sept. 15-17. The following were among those adjudicated.

• Tanya Schultheis, 30, of Brown Street in Riverside pleaded guilty to seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $205.

• Tomasz Zalewski, 25, of Fishel Avenue in Riverhead pleaded guilty to seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and petit larceny and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.  (more…)

09/05/14 8:00am
09/05/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead's court officers do not carry a firearm. The judges who serve the court believe that should change. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Riverhead’s court officers do not carry a firearm. The judges who serve the court believe that should change. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The men and women brought into Riverhead Town Justice Court throughout the year stand accused of a wide array of crimes.

While some are being arraigned on non-violent charges, others have allegedly robbed, killed, beaten and raped people — and often they’ve reportedly committed these types of crimes on more than one occasion.

Yet, unlike most towns, the exterior of the courtroom they enter is secured by court officers who do not carry guns.

So while the accused criminals are escorted into the court by armed police officers, those who meet them there — sometimes family members, other times associates or potential adversaries — are greeted by unarmed court officers.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Police Chief David Hegermiller say the cramped hallways leading into the courtroom are not conducive to arming officers. Justices Allen Smith and Richard Ehlers and assistant district attorney Tim McNulty disagree.

On this issue, we tend to side with the judges and prosecutor, who spend more time in the courtroom and are more in touch with its needs.

The argument that the corridor where guests of the court are screened is too narrow and could lead to situations in which officers have their guns removed from them is too simplistic. These are trained peace officers who already receive firearms training and, like police officers, should be trusted never to lose possession of their gun in a dangerous situation. As long as they continue to receive proper training — and additional training where necessary — this should never be an issue.

What’s perhaps most telling in this week’s cover story about the debate over arming court officers is Mr. Walter’s statement that he plans to address safety issues in the court by relocating it to the former armory building on Route 58. While Mr. Walter desperately wants to see the relocation happen, we’re not sure he has the votes to deliver. We don’t believe a transfer is any reason not to arm court officers now — unless, of course, the supervisor believes making small adjustments to improve court safety now will cost him the political capital he’ll need to get the courts relocated later.

We believe anything that can be done to make the courts safer today is in the best interest of the public Mr. Walter is elected to represent.

05/10/14 10:00am
05/10/2014 10:00 AM
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

(Credit: Tim Gannon)

For readers out there who aren’t big town hall buffs, our government reporter, Tim Gannon, does a bang-up job each week reporting live from public Town Board meetings. In a media cycle that calls for fast, reliable information, his live blogs — with quotes, photos and meeting details along with his built-in perspective from 18 years covering the town — offer a great glimpse into the inner workings of our local government, if that’s your thing. Of course, since I’m an editor it’s my job to follow the news out of our local schools, governments and business communities (more…)

05/01/14 10:00am
05/01/2014 10:00 AM

liveblog

 

The Riverhead Town Board discussed at Thursday’s work session the feasibility of converting the former Armory located on Route 58 into a police and justice court headquarters. The cost of that conversion had been reported to be $11.3 million and the project, so far, hasn’t gained support from the majority of the Town Board.

On Thursday, the board learned that the renovation would cost $13 million if they decide to move forward. The board decided to move forward with studies of other alternatives.

(more…)

05/01/14 5:00am

 

Clockwise from top-left: Town hall, the armory building, police station/justice court, Second Street firehouse (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Clockwise from top-left: Town hall, the armory building, police station/justice court, Second Street firehouse (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

If Riverhead Town Board members don’t agree on much, they at least agrees on this: The town needs a new location for its justice court.

But how to construct it, or where to put it, or how much the town should spend on it have remained topics of constant conversation at Town Hall in recent few months — with little, if any, common ground being established.

(more…)

03/30/14 9:00am
03/30/2014 9:00 AM

Police1_BE_RThere were 263 cases on the docket in Riverhead Town Justice Richard Ehlers’s court March 17-19. The following are among those adjudicated.

• Joseph Bunch Jr., 60, of Old Orchard Road in Wading River pleaded to driving while ability impaired, reduced from driving while intoxicated, and was fined $700.

• Daniel Matos-Gonzalez, 22, of Glen Drive in Shirley pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, reduced from driving while ability impaired by drugs, and was fined $660.

• John Menfi, 47, of West 20th Street in Deer Park pleaded guilty to third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and was fined $400. A first-degree driving while impaired by drugs charge was dismissed.