Southampton Town Police Chief visits community group

“These hamlets are near and dear to my heart,” Southampton Town Police Chief James Kiernan told residents last Wednesday at a meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association. 

Chief Kiernan, who was appointed in December 2022, said he’s been with the department for 26 years. He served in a sector car in the Flanders, Riverside Northampton district, and in the narcotics unit, where he also spent a lot of time in the three hamlets. 

“First of all, I want to talk to you about my availability,” he said. “My door is open, and I work 24/7.”

He brought with him officer James Cavanagh, who covers the three hamlets and is, according to the chief, “the best officer we have.” He said Mr. Cavanagh had asked to accompany him.

Riverside, in particular, has long been labeled one of Long Island’s most socially and economically depressed areas. 

Chief Kiernan said he’s aware of complaints about traffic speeding through the town during rush hour. 

“You have my attention,” he said. “I know that in the morning people are flying through this corridor and going into neighborhoods to get ahead of the traffic. I know that’s going on.”

When spring comes, he said, he will add two more patrol cars to this area.

The chief told residents police have also addressed the situation at 125 Cypress Ave. in Flanders, where drug dealing had been reported. 

“Those people have been evicted,” he said. “We knew that the people living there were going out at night and breaking into cars. We followed them and arrested them.” 

But, he added, they are not in Flanders anymore. 

“Those folks are not in our town any longer,” he said. “They are not too far away. They’re only in Riverhead, right now. They may come back, but we will keep tabs on them.”

On another topic raised by residents — the area adjacent to the McDonald’s — Chief Kiernan said, “I know that blatant prostitution is still out there. Not as much as it was. It’s kind of been pushed to an area behind McDonald’s, which we’re working on as well.”

He said work began recently on a plan to turn the area just east of McDonald’s into a park leading down to the river. 

Some residents also asked about the situation at Wildwood Lake, which was purchased by a church last year. The chief said a trailer at the site will be moved, and the town has posted “No Parking” signs there as well.

Chief Kiernan and Mr. Cavanagh also answered questions about people “panhandling.” 

The chief said the panhandling itself is not illegal — unless it is impeding the flow of traffic.