Crime stats reported, new tracking system coming

The Riverhead Town area has seen a number of violent crimes in recent weeks, and several Riverhead residents were among subjects of a 103-count indictment involving people across Suffolk County.

Other recent incidents of note were the theft of a car with a baby in the back seat; one man menacing another with a machete on Route 58, and a stabbing on West Main Street that necessitated a surgery to remove part of the victim’s pancreas. 

A plainclothes Riverhead officer, who chased down and caught the suspect in that last incident, was credited with saving the victim’s life, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Town officials say the police department is doing well and has a good “closure” rate — a quick arrest after an incident, according to Riverhead Supervisor Tim Hubbard, a former town police officer.

“Our closure rate on cases is incredible,” he said.

Last week, Riverhead Town released its police statistics for 2023, which show fewer incidents in several key categories than occurred in 2022.

The highest number of reported cases were petit larcenies, at 807, although those were down from 827 in 2022. 

That was followed by harassment cases, down from 334 to 280; grand larceny, down from 283 to 223; and criminal mischief, down from 251 to 202. 

There were five fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2023, compared to six in 2022. Statistics for other MVAs were not available. Reported deer/car collisions for 2023 stood at 127; those incidents were not documented in 2022. 

Total arrests, however jumped from 929 to 1,282 year-over-year, and the total number of criminal complaints rose from 2,126 to 2,364.

“The important numbers are down, which is good,” Police Chief David Hegermiller told Town Board members at their work session last Thursday.

Later this year, probably in April or May, the town will begin to track and report criminal incidents to the state using a new management program, the chief said.

“We have to report all charges now,” he said. “Someone could have multiple charges, or someone could have just one.

“Under the current stats,” Mr. Hubbard added, “someone could be arrested in Southampton Town, and also in Riverhead Town and we wouldn’t know over here that the subject is the same person,” Mr. Hubbard said. 

The new program will be able to track all of a given individual’s arrests, Chief Hegermiller said, and will operate compatibly with the department’s existing records management system.