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Police chiefs to meet with state DOT officials to discuss traffic remedies

Police chiefs in Riverhead and Southold towns are continuing to collaborate on brainstorming ideas to free up traffic on the North Fork this fall.

At a Riverhead Town Board work session Thursday, Riverhead Chief David Hegermiller said he and Southold Chief Martin Flatley would meet with New York State Department of Transportation officials next week to discuss several initiatives.

“It’s a volume issue. Our residents should plan accordingly,” Mr. Hegermiller said.

He said the idea to close Sound Avenue to westbound traffic will not be done this year.

“That’s a very big project to do with a lot of staffing, which I don’t think we can do,” he said.

Though the road will not be closed to westbound traffic, he said their plan for this fall will still focus on diverting westbound cars away from Sound Avenue, and encourage them to use north-south roads such as Herricks Lane in Jamesport.

“It will allow less traffic on Sound Avenue so that people that are heading east can make the turns [into businesses] easier instead of holding up traffic,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said.

Mr. Hegermiller said that plan would likely be piloted in September.

“We’ll see how it works and then we’ll take it from there,” he said.

In addition, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is spearheading an effort to provide additional training to Riverhead’s traffic control officers.

She said the Laborers International Union Local 1298 has offered to train officers at no cost to the town.

“They will open up their Bohemia office to train all of our traffic control officers on how to do the proper flagging, when to slow, when to stop,” she said. The four-hour training course could also be opened to Southold officers, Ms. Giglio said.

Mr. Hegermiller said the six or eight officers who choose to continue working during the fall would receive the training and they may consider hiring up to three additional TCOs.

Ms. Giglio reported at the work session that she is also working with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office to purchase additional Conducted Energy Devices, or stun guns, for police officers.

Mr. Hegermiller said that approximately two-thirds of the officers are certified to carry a stun gun.

“We need about 22 additional Tasers to keep all of our law enforcement with Tasers, which should be the first response in fear of threat,” Ms. Giglio said.

She asked Mr. Hegermiller to analyze costs that could be factored into the 2020 budget.

Mr. Hegermiller estimated the cost to be approximately $1,800 between the device, accessories, holster and cartridges and said Sgt. Jon Devereaux is authorized to conduct certification classes, which must be completed annually.

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