In the wake of a rash of pumpkin smashings across the South Fork over the last few weeks, concerned residents, including many whose own pumpkins had been smashed in the pre-Halloween mischief, are confronting the Hamptons Police over perceived inaction on the part of their officers.
At a police-hosted talkback session on Thursday, Janet Kurbis, an East Hampton homeowner, claimed that she had contacted the department when she found the pumpkins from her curbside Halloween display mutilated on her driveway and received a chilly response.
“The officer wanted to know why I was leaving pumpkins by the side of the road!” explained an outraged Kurbis to the talkback committee. “The officer said to me that if I insisted on leaving my pumpkins unprotected in a semi-public place, then I should expect them to get smashed. Then she hung up the phone! I was totally astonished.”
Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch, who was presiding over the talkback, took the opportunity presented by Kurbis’s complaint to detail the Hamptons Police new, experimental crime fighting policies.
“Our strategy in dealing with the pumpkin smashing was a kind of a trial run for what we see as a new technique,” Hirsch explained. “For too long, people have been overly reliant upon the police to respond to wrongdoing. What this has meant is that people go about their day-to-day business in a completely unprotected manner, feeling that the police will come to their rescue if anything should happen. This has meant an incredible expending of resources—time, energy, money, training—on our part when a lot of what we do is dealing with problems that could easily have been prevented.”
According to Hirsch, the police inaction on pumpkin smashing was just a preview of a future of inaction on multiple fronts.
“We’re calling it Operation Kickback,” said Hirsch. The object, according to literature distributed at the talkback, is to train the public to take responsibility for avoiding crime. “It’s pretty simple, really. Just as you wouldn’t be wise to venture down a dark alley in a dangerous part of town, so you wouldn’t be smart to leave your car unlocked. This will train people to be smarter about avoiding crime.”
Operation Kickback takes the idea of crime prevention one step further than similar programs by removing the police from the equation. “From now on, if your car gets stolen, that’s on you. There’s a lot of ways to avoid that happening, after all.”
Participants in the talkback accused the Hamptons Police of adopting a “blame the victim” mentality, but Hirsch scoffed at the notion. “Smart people don’t become victims,” he said, and brought the session to a close.