10/25/12 7:00am
10/25/2012 7:00 AM

GRANT PARPAN FILE PHOTO | This crash in Calverton led to a DWI arrest earlier this year. Police say DWI arrests rose this year. See the infographic below for more details.

This summer marked the busiest season for drunken driving arrests across the North Fork’s two towns in five years, according to reports from Southold and Riverhead police.

From June through August of this year, Riverhead police reported 70 alleged incidents of people driving under the influence of alcohol within the town, nearly double last year’s summer total of 41 incidents, according to the reports.

And August was the busiest month this summer in Riverhead, the reports show, with 27 arrests. There were 26 arrests in July and 17 in June, the figures show.

This summer had the most reported arrests since 2008, when 78 were reported in Riverhead Town. Until this year, the numbers had steadily decreased, according to the reports.

The trend in Riverhead mirrored that of Southold Town, where 42 drunken driving arrests were reported in 2012, an increase from the 28 incidents reported the year before, according to a document provided by police. While just nine drunken driving arrests were reported in August, according to the figures, 17 were documented in July and 16 in June.

Like Riverhead, this summer was also the busiest in Southold Town since 2008, when 44 incidents occurred.

The figures were being compiled for the newspaper just as a Riverhead man suffered minor injuries in two separate accidents involving alleged drunken drivers at the same intersection within a 3 1/2-hour span, startling readers and residents and renewing concerns that our roads have been getting more and more dangerous.

Those DWI accidents were followed up Monday with the arrest of a Deer Park man accused of striking a pedestrian near the Route 58 traffic circle and fleeing the scene. That person was also charged with DWI.

But both Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller and Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said the higher number of reported arrests doesn’t necessarily mean there are more cases of people driving drunk around Riverhead or across the region.

“More manpower” through patrols and checkpoints on the part of the East End DWI Task Force’s inaugural year has led to the higher numbers, Chief Hegermiller said.

“[There were] a lot of extra eyes on the roads,” he said of this past summer. “There were nights when you had more than half a dozen cars out there.”

The task force, run by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, includes officers from East End town and village police departments, as well as state and county police and DA officials. The task force was formed in the spring and began operations on the North and South Forks on Memorial Day weekend.

The East End police departments involved in the task force worked in one another’s jurisdictions at checkpoints and patrols on scheduled weekends to crack down on drunk drivers in the county’s five East End towns.

Locally, a task force patrol in Riverhead in June netted 11 drunken driving arrests, with another six people being arrested at a July checkpoint in Southold, police said.

The task force will continue operations into the fall and will focus on reducing boating while intoxicated in local waters next year as well, authorities said.

Chief Hegermiller thanked the DA’s office for being “the glue that holds it all together.”

“It was a great effort,” he said.

Chief Flatley agreed that the DWI task force helped Southold Town police by providing more manpower for checkpoints. The task force allowed the department to target high-traffic weekends for greater enforcement without causing congestion on the roads.

“Up to this point, we tried to do DWI checkpoints but it takes a lot of officers,” Chief Flatley said. “It’s very difficult to pull something like that off on our own.”

He believes the dip in numbers over the last few years until this summer was because the department had fewer officers to devote to patrols. For most of this summer the department operated with 46 officers, and that number dropped lower because of injuries to some officers that took them off active duty.

The figures don’t take into account arrests in neighboring Flanders, Riverside or Northampton, as those hamlets are in Southampton Town.

While Chief Flatley credited some of the increased DWI arrests to the extra manpower from the task force, he also said more motorists are using Bluetooth cellphones to report drunk drivers.

The department has seen an increase in the number of 911 calls from the road in the past few years, he said.

“Realistically that’s where a lot of DWI [reports] are coming from,” Chief Flatley said.

Local community groups agreed that awareness and enforcement seemed to be increasing.

“There is more of an awareness and there is more of a vigilance about it,” said Felicia Scocozza, executive director of the Riverhead Community Awareness Program (CAP).

Ms. Scocozza said her organization works with the Riverhead department to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.

CAP normally hosts a program in the spring to teach 10th-graders not to drink and drive, but the program’s funding through the county was cut this year, she said.

“It was a very effective program, [the students] really showed an increased awareness,” Ms. Scocozza said.

psquire@timesreview.com

See the infographic below for more details:

10/18/12 9:45am
10/18/2012 9:45 AM

A 22-year-old Riverhead man was arrested Wednesday evening in Cutchogue after a physical altercation with police, Southold Town police said.

Curtis Trent was pulled over by police at the intersection of Eugene Road and Beebe drive about 9 p.m. for traffic violations when he became combative, fighting with officers, police said.

After Mr. Trent was subdued, he was found to be in possession of marijuana.

Mr. Trent was arrested for three misdemeanor offenses, transported to police headquarters, processed and held for arraignment, according to the report.

Police did not name the exact charges in a release, and were not immediately available to provide more detailed information.

10/08/12 4:59pm
10/08/2012 4:59 PM

A Riverhead man was arrested Sunday night after crashing a car on Sound Avenue and fleeing the scene on foot, Southold Town police said.

Noel Castaneda, 26, who also doesn’t have a driver’s license, crashed about 8 p.m. near Bergen Avenue in Mattituck, police said.

He was found a short time later by police K-9 units and police determined that he was intoxicated, officials said.

Mr. Castaneda was arrested for driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, according to a police report.

He was transported to Southold police headquarters, where he was processed and held for arraignment.

09/13/12 2:15pm
09/13/2012 2:15 PM

A 24-year-old Shirley man was arrested Wednesday in Laurel after a domestic fight at a gas station escalated into the suspect “attacking” his companion and a responding police officer, then attempting to grab the officer’s gun, Southold Town police said.

Police were called to the Empire gas station on Main Road about 2:30 p.m. after witnesses — an off-duty state court officer and the officer’s wife — saw Jordan Gormez “attack” a woman he was with after pulling into the station, police said.

Mr. Gormez then allegedly threatened the court officer and his wife, who promptly called police, officials said.

When police arrived on the scene, Mr. Gormez tried to flee on foot, repeatedly ignored commands by officers and also physically attacked police, authorities said.

During the scuffle, Mr. Gormez attempted to grab one officer’s gun, police said. With the help of the off-duty court officer, Mr. Gormez was subdued and arrested, officials said.

During the investigation, officers found Mr. Gormez also did considerable damage to his female companion’s vehicle, police said.

Mr. Gormez was charged with criminal mischief, attempted grand larceny, resisting arrest, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and four counts of second degree harassment, according to the report.

He was held overnight for arraignment in Southold Justice Court Thursday.

Police described the alleged violence only as “attacks” in a release, but based on the charges Mr. Gormez is accused of choking a victim.

Officials did say that the choking charge was “not in relation to one of our officers.”

08/16/12 8:00am
08/16/2012 8:00 AM

SOUTHAMPTON POLICE BLOTTER

A Flanders man found that his car had been tampered with Monday morning when he learned the gas tank had been filled with water, police said.

The man told police that when he arrived at his Longneck Boulevard home about 3 a.m., his car had 1/8 of a tank of gas, and when he attempted to leave for work at about 3 p.m. his tank was about half full, but the car started and then immediately died and wouldn’t start again, according to police. Police are investigating.

• Erik Bilka, 38, of Bay Avenue in Flanders was charged with DWI and moving from a lane unsafely last Wednesday night on Flanders Road in Riverside, police said.

Mr. Bilka was stopped about 10 p.m. for failing to stay in a lane when an officer noticed he displayed poor coordination and had the smell of alcohol on his breath, according to police, who said he performed poorly on field sobriety tests and failed a pre-screen breath test.

• Daniel Romero-Gonzalez, 20, of Parkway Drive in Calverton was charged with public urination about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, on Ludlam Avenue in Riverside, where he was urinating in full view of the public, according to police.

• Someone broke into Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside last Monday by breaking a window, Southampton Town police said.

But while the suspects appeared to have entered the building, nothing was reported missing, authorities said.

An alarm did go off in the building about 2 a.m. last Monday, Aug. 6, police said, adding that there is video surveillance in the school.
No arrests were reported as of this week.

• An unknown person broke into a home on Royal Avenue in Flanders last week — sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning ­— and moved things around inside the house but didn’t steal anything, according to police, who said a rear window had been pried open.

• The brake line on a 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan parked on Flanders Road in Flanders was intentionally cut sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, according to police. Police are investigating.

• A window in the back door of a home on Flanders Road in Flanders was broken sometime between July 28 and Aug. 8, and it was reported last Wednesday. The home is unoccupied and in the process of being sold, police said.

RIVERHEAD POLICE BLOTTER

Margarito Romero-Quinteros, 43, of Riverhead was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Sunday, state police said. He was held for a morning arraignment at Riverhead Town Justice Court.

• About $4,000 in cash was taken from an Aquebogue home last Tuesday, town police. Detectives are still investigating the incident.

• An unknown person removed 35 sections of black aluminum fencing from the Great Rock Golf Course on Route 25A in Wading River sometime before Saturday, according to a police report. The fencing was worth about $7,950, police said.

• A man reported being assaulted Sunday on Harrison Avenue, police said. The victim was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center by Riverhead ambulance volunteers. Detectives are still investigating the incident and could not provide additional details.

• More than $10,000 worth of electronics were taken from a Tanger Outlet store Monday, according to a police report. Police said 31 Sony tablets were removed from the Sony store. The tablet computers were worth a total of $10,850, according to a report.

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.

08/11/12 10:10am
08/11/2012 10:10 AM

A 40-year-old woman is being charged for shoplifting at the Waldbaum’s in Mattituck, Southold Town police said.

Rona Simmons of Riverhead was arrested about 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Main Road supermarket, where she “did take several items…without paying for them,” according to a police report.

She was charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, and released on $250 bail, police said.