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State, Nassau police to patrol Hempstead Village, officials say

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder spoke at a news conference in Hempstead on Friday about New York State and Nassau County Police deploying one patrol car each across the Village of Hempstead over the next month to address a recent uptick in gang-related homicides.    Credit: Howard Schnapp

New York State and Nassau County Police will each deploy one patrol car across the Village of Hempstead over the next month to address a recent uptick in gang-related homicides, officials said Friday.

The increased police presence is needed to deter a rise in violence amid a series of fatal shootings linked to warring factions of the Bloods, Crips and 18th Street gangs, said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

The additional resources, which will be deployed during targeted hours throughout the 55,000-person village, is also expected to restore a sense of calm in a community ravaged by a half-dozen murders in the first seven months of 2019, Ryder said.

"It's that sense of security to the community," Ryder said at a news conference in Hempstead. "They see an extra presence. They know there is extra law enforcement out there. It's a deterrent for the bad guy."

The plan calls for two uniformed Nassau Police officers and two state troopers to patrol the village alongside members of the Hempstead Village Police Department for the next 30 days. The Nassau officers, Ryder said, would work only overtime shifts that are paid by the county.

A state police spokeswoman declined to confirm details about the plan, arguing it would jeopardize officer safety, but said the department would share intelligence resources and deploy "high visibility patrols" in the village.

The 113-member Hempstead police department is responsible for patrolling the 3.7-square-mile village. Nassau Police investigate all homicides in the county and work with village police on special investigations, including gang crimes.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she reached out to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office in recent weeks to discuss ways to help the village rein in gang homicides.

"This is about making sure that every child is safe and that families can enjoy their communities," Curran said Friday.

Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan said he welcomed the additional support.

"We want these officers to come and help the Village of Hempstead," Ryan said. "This has been a long-term discussion we've had with the county and with the state."

To date this year, Hempstead Village has recorded six homicides, nearly half of the 14 murders in the entire county of 1.3 million residents. The village had four homicides in 2018.

The most recent homicide occurred early Sunday. Hempstead resident Paul Larue, 36, was fatally shot at 2:30 a.m. near the intersection of Fulton Avenue and Clinton Street.

Despite the uptick in homicides, Ryan insists that violent crime — including confirmed gun shots, robberies and property crimes — have declined by 7 percent this year and 18 percent over the past five years.

"The village is safer now than it has been during the past five-year period," said Ryan, adding that the department hopes to hire up to 17 additional officers to bring its workforce up to 130.

The law enforcement collaboration is not a new phenomenon. In 2002, funding from the state's "blue-grey" patrols program was used to temporarily place Hempstead and State Police officers in the same patrol vehicle.

And in recent years, Cuomo has directed State Police to patrol communities, including Brentwood and Central Islip, that were hard-hit by MS-13 gang violence.

Ryder said the gang violence plaguing Hempstead has no borders and worries that it could spill into surrounding communities.

"We know that their problem is our problem," Ryder said. "And our problem is their problem. There is no lines in bad-guy world. The bad guys commit crimes on both sides."

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