Nearly a month after elected officials held a press conference to push back against proposed changes to the New York State Police Barracks in Riverside, a decision has been made to send the unit between two and four additional officers by February.
While the dispatcher positions at the Riverside barracks have been eliminated, the door to the building will be open to the public when officers are inside, Maj. David Candelaria confirmed in an interview this week.
Concerns recently arose after the state announced that it will close the front door to the Riverside barracks and will no longer have a trooper at the front desk at some points.
State police began dispatching all calls from the Riverside barracks to Farmingdale as of Dec. 15, he said, adding the two Riverside barracks dispatchers will now be on patrol.
Maj. Candelaria said a buzzer and phone that connects to police dispatchers in Farmingdale will be installed at the front of the building. In addition, he said instructions will be posted there explaining what to do if someone needs help and the door is locked.
Two trooper positions that were moved from the Riverside barracks to the Farmingdale barracks last year will now be replaced, he said.
“I can’t say the exact number because it fluctuates, but we’re definitely getting the two back,” Maj. Candelaria said. “I am going to be increasing staffing at Riverside. Absolutely.”
The extra patrols will focus neighborhoods in Riverhead, Riverside, Flanders, Northampton and Hampton Bays, he said.
“This is a 100 percent victory for the community because instead of having a uniform state trooper sitting at a desk idle for 12 hours, he or she is now in a patrol car patrolling the area and deterring crime,” Maj. Candelaria said. “This is a good thing.”
Local civic association members have mixed feelings about the recent decision.
Vince Taldone, the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said: “Restoration of trooper staff levels and related patrols is an important first step in meeting the trooper’s original promise to the community. But FRNCA remains opposed to any closure of the doors to the barracks. It should be open 24/7 with someone ready to help residents or visitors to the area. This is particularly important due to the often limited police staffing for the area by the Southampton Town Police.”
At the Bay View Pines Civic and Taxpayers Association’s meeting Wednesday, president Ron Fisher updated the group on the status of the barracks and said he was pleased to hear that up to four additional troopers could be coming.
“We’re going to lose that dispatch officer and the door will be open as long as there’s a trooper there,” he explained, “so they estimate that the door will most likely be closed from midnight to 8 a.m.”
Unlike the town police, the state police are not hooked up to the E911 system, so calls to 911 never go to the state police.
Troopers usually monitor police radios from the towns of Southampton and Riverhead and will continue to assist wherever help is needed, Maj. Candelaria said.