12/07/12 10:00am
12/07/2012 10:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead police speaking to a Hispanic bicyclist on West Main Street in downtown Riverhead in 2009.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead police speaking to a Hispanic bicyclist on West Main Street in downtown Riverhead in 2009.

Lost in much of the recent discussion about how to bridge the divide between the Riverhead Police Department and the town’s Hispanic community is the actual goal. Readers have bemoaned a society that bends over backward to help undocumented immigrants. But let’s be clear: That’s not what police experts and officials are advocating.

The goal is not to cater to minorities but to be a more effective police force. Investigations in Hispanic neighborhoods, experts say, could be greatly aided by officers who can communicate with the people who live and work there.

Imagine a scenario in which a Hispanic woman wishes to report a crime but can’t explain the situation quickly or clearly enough to a responding officer. This scenario is not purely hypothetical. In the town police department today you can see Hispanics struggle to communicate with police, and vice versa. You can also see officers frustrated by a language barrier that prevents them from doing the best job they can and want to do.

Experts and officials say the town would be better served, and safer, if such lines of communication could be opened. Residents could communicate effectively with officers to alert them to dangerous people in the community or tip them off to potential crimes before they happen. And officers would have the added opportunity to develop sources within those communities that could prove invaluable in catching criminals.


Current popular police theory holds that departments should reflect their community. Nowhere is this better seen than in the New York Police Department, which includes hundreds of minority officers — more than half the force now — who are able to connect and forge relationships with minority neighborhoods.

According to 2010 census data, nearly 14 percent of Riverhead town is Hispanic, a major jump of more than 77 percent from 10 years earlier. And that data does not include those who didn’t volunteer information for the census. There is no way of knowing how many of those Hispanic residents speak only Spanish, but the Hispanic population is growing and slowly integrating.

Our immigrant population boom is just beginning, and that integration won’t happen overnight. But Riverhead’s public schools already include a higher percentage of minorities than is found in the general population, signifying that population shift. There are dozens of English as a Second Language classes in our public schools, libraries and churches, with hundreds of students.

Yet some people seem convinced that, unlike immigrants past, from Germans and Irish to Italians and Poles, this generation of immigrants refuses to assimilate and will not learn English. The critics fail to see that real integration takes time and that, until it does happen, it’s dangerous to ignore a growing population.

Having people who are able to connect with the Hispanic population, experts say, opens up a wealth of knowledge for police officers to pull from. It’s these bonds between diverse areas and police officers that make the whole community safer, not just minority neighborhoods.

No one — not experts or town officials or police administrators — is suggesting the town hire less competent officers. The latest police recruits hired Tuesday are, by all accounts, upstanding and exemplary.

But just as some value a university cop’s experience on the job, others value language skills.

That’s one reason the Suffolk County Police and police departments across the country are now seeking more Spanish-speaking officers. Fluency in a language spoken by an underserved population is a valuable skill, just like a war hero’s skills acquired in battle, and not in any way a crutch.

SPECIAL REPORT, FEB 10: In diverse area, Riverhead police force remains overwhelmingly white

08/15/12 3:58pm
08/15/2012 3:58 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Two people were hospitalized after a rollover accident on Manor Road in Calverton Wednesday afternoon.

A rollover accident in Calverton sent two men to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries Wednesday afternoon.

The two men were driving a black Nissan Sentra SR sedan southbound on Manor Road about 2:30 p.m. when the car flipped and came to rest on its side, police at the scene said.

Police said they believe wet roads may have played a part in the accident.

Riverhead firefighters and ambulance personnel were called to scene to treat the victims. Firefighters had to cut off the roof of the vehicle to free the passenger of the sedan, who was unable to escape from the wreck on his own.

The two victims were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Officials briefly closed Manor Road between Route 25 and Middle Road. The road was reopened about 3 p.m. as towing crews removed the wreckage.


08/09/12 9:00am
08/09/2012 9:00 AM

Two unknown men and an unknown woman reportedly stole seven lawn mowers from a Riverhead store early Friday morning, police said.

The three suspects allegedly used a tan-colored van to take the equipment from The Home Depot store on Route 58, police said.

Detectives are investigating the incident.

• Jacqueline Burck, 23, of Riverhead was arrested July 29 after damaging a vehicle in Center Moriches, Suffolk County police said. Ms. Burck drove a 2006 Suzuki into another vehicle parked in a driveway located on Wading River Road sometime overnight between July 6 to July 7, officials said. She was charged with leaving the scene of property damage, police said.

• Juan Mateo, 40, of Riverhead was arrested on forcible touching, harassment and resisting arrest charges Sunday, police said. He was processed and held for arraignment. No details were available.

• Nicholas Dolce, 19, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after being stopped near a 7-Eleven convenience store on Route 58, police said.  He was processed and held for arraignment.

• Four people driving dirt bikes and quads damaged a Riverhead sod farm July 31, police said. The suspects rode their bikes and quads across the Deleo Sod Farm on Tuthills Lane, according to a police report. No arrests were made.

• Nearly $25,000 in jewelry and money was stolen from a Riverhead home Friday, police said. The unknown person entered the Osborne Avenue home through the northwest door and stole jewelry and cash worth $24,700.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.

08/08/12 12:30pm
08/08/2012 12:30 PM

The Riverhead Town Board on Thursday authorized the settlement of a 1996 lawsuit accusing Riverhead police of false arrest.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Anthony Wayne Smith of Riverhead, names the town along with two police officers, James Lydon and Darren Fulton, as defendants.

The lawsuit states that on Feb. 1, 1995, Mr. Smith was arrested at a bus stop on West Main Street and Griffing Avenue for “asserting his right to freedom of speech” and goes on to accuse the town police of unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest and imprisonment, unreasonable and excessive force and remanding Mr. Smith for psychiatric tests without cause.

The suit also claims Town Justice Court officials refused to set a racially fair cross section to sit on Mr. Smith’s jury.

In the suit, Mr. Smith was seeking $100,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 in compensatory damages on each of 12 counts, which would total $2.4 million.

Although the board voted to approve the settlement offer, board members interviewed after the meeting either didn’t know the amount of the settlement or were unsure if the figure could be released.

Councilman Jim Wooten said the settlement was a monetary one and that it was “a substantial amount.”


08/06/12 8:05am
08/06/2012 8:05 AM

A Riverhead man was arrested shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday night after the owner of the multi-family dwelling he lives in on Osborn Avenue reported him for stealing a pocketbook and cash, Riverhead Town Police said.

Cristobal Cruz, 44, was later found hiding in the rear of the residence by a responding K9 unit. He was in possession of the missing items when he was located, police said.

Mr. Cruz was charged with second-degree burglary and held overnight for a Monday morning arraignment.

08/05/12 3:59pm
08/05/2012 3:59 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A dirt bike rider was taken to the hospital Sunday after colliding with a pick-up truck.

A dirt bike rider was hospitalized Sunday afternoon after he collided with a pick-up truck on a residential road in Riverhead.

The man was riding a red Honda motorbike about 3 p.m. when he was struck by a blue Toyota truck at the intersection of Oakland Drive North and Grove Street, police said.

The victim suffered a laceration to his leg and was treated by Riverhead ambulance volunteers at the scene. A small crowd gathered at the scene to care for the victim, laying cloth over his injured leg as the victim’s father yelled at the driver of the truck.

The man was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment. His bike was impounded by police since it was unregistered, officers at the scene said.

There were no tickets issued in the accident, police said, adding that the crash is still under investigation.

Police have not yet released the names of the men involved.

07/29/12 2:00pm
07/29/2012 2:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | An elderly woman was reported to be unconscious but breathing Sunday afternoon at Wendy’s in Riverhead.

An elderly woman was found unconscious but breathing in the bathroom at Wendy’s in Riverhead Sunday afternoon, according to the restaurant’s manager and Riverhead Fire Department officials.

The woman was reported unconscious shortly after 12:15 p.m. and was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment, fire officials said.

Wendy’s manager Patty Demint said the woman had been in the bathroom for about 10 minutes before employees entered and found her unconscious. She was breathing and her eyes were blinking, Ms. Demint said.

No other details about the unidentified woman were immediately available.

07/26/12 8:00am
07/26/2012 8:00 AM

Nine people were arrested by the East End DWI Task Force Saturday evening, authorities said.

According to a police report, the following people were charged with driving while intoxicated: Juan Perez, 50, of Riverhead; Eusebio Plato, 38, of Riverhead; Farrow Sims Jr., 19, of Calverton; Mark Sims, 42, of Riverhead; John Stark, 42, of Southold; and Otto Zeller, 33, of Huntington.

Amilcar Cano, 28, of Greenport was charged with DWI and resisting arrest, police said. Philip Ashley, 72, of Jamesport was charged with driving while ability impaired, and Melissa McMoore, 21, of Greenport was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, according to the report. The task force included officers from the Riverhead, Quogue and Westhampton Beach police departments. Police said more checkpoints will be deployed throughout the East End during the summer and reminded drivers to wear seat belts and not to drink and drive or use cellphones while driving.

• Christopher DeCarlo, 24, of Manorville was arrested Sunday and charged with petit larceny and two counts of criminal possession of a hypodermic needle after he was allegedly caught stealing a DVD player from Walmart, police said.

Mr. DeCarlo had two hypodermic needles in his front right pants pocket, according to a police report. The needles were removed and stored as evidence, police said. Mr. DeCarlo was processed, given an appearance ticket and turned over to Suffolk County police on an active warrant.

• A money deposit bag containing nearly $4,000 was allegedly stolen from Bed Bath and Beyond in Riverhead last Thursday, town police said. The bag, containing $3,832.30, was reported missing about 8 p.m., according to a police report. The investigation is ongoing, police said.

• Tyrone Trent, 49, of Riverhead was arrested on a second-degree criminal contempt charge after he violated an order of protection, Riverhead police said. Mr. Trent was taken to police headquarters and held for arraignment.

• John Robinson, 19, of Riverhead was arrested on a harassment charge after he became physically abusive during a dispute at his home, police said. According to a police report, Mr. Robinson arrived at the house drunk and was verbally and physically abusive to a woman there, grabbing her by the arms and shaking her while she held a child. The victim fled into the house and called 911, police said. The two were separated by police and Mr. Robinson was arrested and held for arraignment.

• Paul Pleickhardt, 33, of Shoreham was arrested last Wednesday on drunk driving charges after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, Suffolk County police said. Mr. Pleickhardt was driving a 1993 Honda Civic along Washington Avenue about 7 p.m. when his car crashed into another vehicle, officials said. He was sent to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and treated for undisclosed injuries, police said. Details about the other driver weren’t available. Mr. Pleickhardt was charged with DWI, officials said.

• Enrique David, 26, of Riverhead was arrested early Friday on drunk driving charges in Ridge, Suffolk County police said. He was driving a 1997 Dodge near the intersection of Route 25 and Wading River Hollow Road about 3 p.m., officials said. Mr. David was charged with DWI and refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, police said.

• Shanay White, 21, of Wading River was arrested Friday on drug charges in Patchogue, according to Suffolk County police. She was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, officials said.

• Ryan Delapine, 22, of Shoreham was arrested Saturday on drunk driving charges in Port Jefferson, Suffolk County police said. He was driving a 2003 Jeep along Thompson Street at around 3 a.m. when he failed to stop at a stop sign, officials said. Mr. Delapine was charged with DWI, police said.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.