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Hempstead anti-crime program is succeeding, officials say

On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and

On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder provided an update on the "Hempstead Initiative," which is designed to lower crime and create a safer Hempstead Village. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An anti-crime program launched two weeks ago after three daylight murders in Hempstead village has already produced 100 arrests, including 12 for felonies, Nassau County’s police commissioner said Thursday.

Standing in front of guns and drugs seized in the arrests, Commissioner Patrick Ryder described the "Hempstead Initiative" as an intelligence and team-driven effort by law enforcement at all levels — village, county, state and federal.

Joining Ryder at Village Hall were other police officials and civic and elected leaders, including Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan, village Police Chief Paul Johnson, County Executive Laura Curran and county Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury).

Bynoe played a key role in the initiative, reaching out to Ryder, Curran, Ryan and Johnson about her concern over violent crime and gun violence in the community, said Danny Schrafel, a spokesman for the legislature's minority caucusThe group had a series of working meetings where they shaped the initiative, he said.

“Our streets and our schools will be safer…," Bynoe said at the news conference, "and I am sure that we will be able to report back to our communities that our work is not in vain and that their support is most needed.”

Ryan pointed out that the village's 120-strong police force had reduced crime in the past five years and that the recent rise couldn't be tolerated.

“The safety and protection of our residents is our top priority,” Ryan said.

Displaying one of the guns, Curran called the crackdown a comprehensive strategy based on appropriately deploying resources, making street arrests, developing investigative leads, identifying locations of concern and mapping hot spots.

“This strategy has been showing real results,” she said. “We simply do not accept gang violence in our communities. We have zero tolerance for it.”

The village and county police forces are on the streets; federal and state officials help by identifying potential offenders, such as parolees, the officials said. 

So far, the new crime-fighting push has removed 25 gang members from village streets — 13 Bloods, six Crips, four from MS-13 and two from the 18th Street gang, Ryder said.

Still, “as we’ve said before, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” he said, hailing the reintroduction of a gang resistance and education program that will be paid for with forfeited funds.

Cash totaling $35,000, about $45,000 of crack cocaine and about $10,000 worth of heroin have been confiscated, he said. Charges that those arrested are facing include criminal possession of a weapon and witness intimidation. 

Wednesday night, alleged Bloods member Gregory McTootle and his wife, Eunice, were arrested and a loaded .380-caliber pistol, 324 bags of heroin, 32.5 grams of heroin, 81.5 grams of cocaine and marijuana and THC edibles were seized from their home, Ryder said.

McTootle has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

His wife was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a firearm, they said.

Hempstead‘s latest anti-crime strategy will end only when it is deemed a success, officials said.

“The funding is not an issue,“ Ryder said. “We’re going to be rolling this until we get it under control.”

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