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01/17/14 12:00pm
01/17/2014 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverside.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has formed the county’s first citizens advisory board for law enforcement, and has named a Riverhead pastor as a member of the board’s initial six-member team.

The Sheriff’s Office Citizens Advisory Board will create and run programs designed to “resolve conflict, concerns and issues regarding the sheriff’s office and the community it serves,” according to a Thursday press release.

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco said the initiative — which comes amid increased media scrutiny over law enforcement agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties — is an important first step in “preserving public trust in county law enforcement.”

Calls for a police department advisory board in Nassau and Suffolk have grown in recent years, with a recent Newsday investigation pointing to the fact that no civilian review organizations — such as NYC’s Civilian Complaint Review Board — exist in the two counties to field complaints against police.

An accompanying Newsday editorial called for the establishment of such boards.

“Residents need a forum to air grievances about police treatment,” the editorial reads. “These are not cure-alls, but they often have helped to create a culture of accountability to the public.”

A member of the new board will be the Rev. Charles Coverdale, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Riverhead.

Rev. Coverdale has “made major contributions to his local community,” the sheriff’s press release reads, noting his ministry to inmates inside the county’s correctional facilities.

Rev. Coverdale also serves on Harvard Divinity School Center’s Leadership Council in Boston, Mass., according to the release. He will be joining a diverse board that features a psychotherapist, a priest, a retired police officer, an attorney, and a Long Island civic leader.

The board will write up annual reviews of complaints and concerns from civilians, promote community input through programs, review and comment on the office’s law enforcement activities, and set up meetings in various towns throughout the year to encourage residents to get involved, according to the sheriff’s statement.

The Sheriff’s Office Citizens Advisory Board will hold its first meeting in early February.

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08/22/13 7:00pm
08/22/2013 7:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | Sheriff DeMarco ceremoniously smashes the champagne bottle on the bow of Marine 41.

COURTESY PHOTO | Sheriff DeMarco ceremonially smashes the champagne bottle on the bow of Marine 41.

Marine 41, the latest custom-made addition to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office’s East End Marine Task Force, officially entered into service in a christening ceremony in Hampton Bays Thursday.

“We’re here today to christen Marine 41, but also to celebrate our success as a group with a mission to ensure secure passage and safety throughout Long Island’s beautiful East End waterways,” said Sheriff Vincent DeMarco at the ceremony at the Shinnecock U.S. Coast Guard station.

The vessel, which is designed to respond to chemical, biological weapon, nuclear and explosive scenarios, was purchased through a $1.2 million federal grant and has already started serving East End waterways. In July, the ship was used in an operation to detonate forgotten 1940s-era ordnance that had been uncovered by Superstorm Sandy on Gardiners Point Island.

Marine 41 was most recently used during a search and rescue mission on July 24 to help locate lost fisherman, John Aldridge, who was found after an extensive search about 43 miles off the coast of Montauk clinging to a buoy.

Mr. Aldridge and his family were in attendance Thursday as the Coast Guard was honored for their role in his rescue.

The ship will operate in East End waterways throughout the year, and is equiped with state-of-the-art infrared cameras, side scan sonar, emergency medical equipment and more.

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06/03/13 12:25pm
06/03/2013 12:25 PM
Suffolk Sheriff's new marine boat

COURTESY PHOTO | Marine 41 will be available to all East End marine units.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has purchased a custom-made, 41-foot emergency response ship equipped with high-tech features like side-scan sonar and forward-looking infrared cameras, allowing it to spy on bay and ocean bottoms and navigate through the night with the utmost confidence.

The vessel will be used by members of the East End Marine Task Force, established in 2007 to help coordinate marine units from across the East End. The task force includes sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Coast Guard officers. Marine law enforcement units from each of the five East End towns also signed a memorandum of agreement to share and standardize equipment and training.

The task force agreement allows participating personnel to cross town borders when needed, which “increases safety and keeps costs down,” said sheriff’s office’s marine unit commanding officer, Sgt. John Andrejack.

Sgt. Andrejack is tasked with overseeing and managing the new boat.

“I don’t know of any other vessels like this,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

The ship, Marine 41, is a C.B.R.N.E.-response vessel -— which stands for Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive — outfitted with radar, chart plotters and a dual-screen GPS. The boat is designed to be able to respond to a nuclear, chemical or biological attack or accident.

It’s powered by twin Cummins Diesel motors and does not have propellers. The boat is instead propelled by Hamilton Jets, which allow it to operate in very shallow water (less than three feet), officials said. The cabin air is always purified, with no outside air circulated inside. If the boat enters an area with hazardous smoke and fumes, there is constant clean air in the cabin, official said.

Marine 41 has firefighting capability with a water pump that can move 2,000 gallons a minute. It also comes with a 500-pound Davit winch to lift and recover things from the water.

“This is the most well-equipped response boat in the area,” said Sgt. Andrejack, who was involved in acquiring, designing and equipping the craft.

Officers on the task force from all different towns will crew the ship, he said.

“This vessel is crewed by multiple agencies, used for whatever town may need it for any large event,” Sgt. Andrejack explained, giveing the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport as one example. “It can be transferred from town to town when and where it is needed.”

The sheriff’s office was able to make the purchase using a $1.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant, officials said. The grant also allowed for the purchase of personal radiation protectors and 40 strong exposure suits that can be used to protect officers during severe storms or harsh winter weather, both to be distributed to members of the East End Marine Task Force.

The boat also came with a survival raft, EMT equipment and is able accommodate a patient on a backboard.

Marine 41 and all the on-board equipment cost $650,000.

A full-scale training exercise was recently performed on the boat. That simulation exercise, based on an actual recent event, involved a fishing vessel had dredged up hazardous material that the crew had to “decontaminate” before towing the vessel back to shore.

“A vessel of this capability was lacking in the region and the citizens of the East End deserve the capability and protection this asset provides,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

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05/21/13 6:19pm
05/21/2013 6:19 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Suffolk County Sheriffs survey the scene where a man allegedly shot an air rifle near the county center Tuesday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Suffolk County Sheriffs survey the scene Tuesday afternoon where a man allegedly shot an air rifle near the county center.

One man’s boredom led to his arrest Tuesday afternoon, after he pumped up an air rifle, pointed it from his parked SUV and fired it for fun a few hundred feet from the Suffolk County Center in Riverside, county sheriffs said.

The man, who was not identified by police, was sitting in a tan Honda CR-V in the south parking lot about 4:30 p.m. when he began pumping the unloaded air rifle and then pointed it at a passing car, said deputy sheriff Sgt. Salvatore Petrone.

The man fired the air rifle, scaring the woman driving the other vehicle. The woman then called police and reported she was shot at.

Sheriff’s deputies and Southampton Town police officers rushed to the scene and located the man in the parking lot, where he told police he was bored at the time and didn’t intend to harm anyone.

“He just did something really stupid,” Sgt. Petrone said.

The man was arrested for reckless endangerment, Sgt. Petrone said, adding that he may also be charged with criminal weapons possession after he was found with two air rifles in his car.

Additional information about the arrest was not immediately available.

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