U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin, New York State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele held a press conference Monday in front of the Riverside State Police barracks to demand state trooper staffing be maintained at the premises. The elected officials have been fighting to ensure that troopers assigned to the Riverside area remain in place and the doors are kept open to residents.
“The barracks should remain publicly accessible and fully staffed in order to ensure the community’s safety,” Zeldin said. “With the rise in violence and crime in the area, this is the worse time to make these changes.”
LaValle and Thiele wrote to the governor last March requesting that a desk position at the Riverside Barracks be maintained, and stressing the importance of personal interaction between the police and the residents. Currently, the state police’s plan is that rather than having someone staff the front desk in Riverside, a phone at the entrance will be available to reach dispatchers at the Farmingdale barracks.
“I fought long and hard to have the state locate and build this trooper barracks in Riverside,” LaValle said. “Having an adequate level of State Police personnel on-site and publically available is critically important for the community’s protection.”
LaValle also called for a new class of troopers to be initated in order to ensure proper staffing statewide, to better protect residents and to battle the Long Island heroin crisis.
“The decision by the State Police to reduce its public presence at the Riverside barracks is ill-considered and short-sighted,” Thiele said. “Given issues with drugs and property crimes in the community, particularly the heroin epidemic, the community needs more police not fewer. My great fear is that this is the first of incremental steps to actually close the Riverside barracks. That would be a public safety disaster. The State Police are attempting to spin this as a move to get more cops on the road. The facts simply do not bear this out. Over the last few years, we have lost police coverage. This is simply a band aid to cover up those losses. Elected officials and the community must stand together to demand more police services. We deserve nothing less.”
Vince Taldone, the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association said, “We have been coping with a terrible surge in crime recently and an unacceptably sluggish response to this crime wave by a poorly funded town police force. People are afraid to go out after dark, and in some homes, children must learn to hide in closets when gun fire is heard on the street. We need our state troopers to be there now more than ever.”