Community leaders in Nassau County are calling for more police patrols in the wake of at least nine armed robberies of taxi drivers since late last year that police believe are part of a pattern.
The most recent holdup occurred Monday in Roosevelt when a cabbie working for Freeport-based Taxi Taxi suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot in the back by a fare, police said.
It was the second shooting of a cabbie during a robbery in Nassau since the start of the year, but police said a February holdup in which a cabbie was wounded is not connected to the broader pattern.
The Nassau police department is stretched thin and needs more funding to hire new officers and step up patrols, said Carl Achille, president of the Parkhurst Civic Association in Elmont and a family friend of the cabbie shot Monday.
“I would say most of the people in the civic associations and in our membership in particular, they do feel unsafe and they do feel that they would like to see more police and they would like to see people do more to prevent crimes in their community, especially violent crimes,” said Achille, who works in law enforcement in New York City.
Achille called on Nassau Executive Edward Mangano to increase police funding.
“Residents pay a lot of taxes and we deserve more funding and better resources,” said Achille, who along with Democratic State Senate candidate Adam Haber, is offering a $1,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in the case.
The department has hired close to 700 officers in the past two years amid a record number of retirements. In June, the department hired 154 new recruits and plans to hire another class of officers in October, officials have said.
“We invite the civic leader to meet with the police commissioner and learn how the county has been hiring new police officers over the past year and has more classes on the way,” said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin in a statement.
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the pattern of nine armed robberies of taxi drivers, which began in November, is among the department’s top priorities. Krumpter said he is planning to announce an increased reward, up from the $5,000 currently offered by Nassau Crime Stoppers, for the arrest and prosecution of the robber or robbers Monday.
“Either an individual or a group of individuals is targeting cabdrivers. We are aggressively investigating it,” said Krumpter, who would not say if investigators had narrowed the list of suspects. “We have a significant amount of resources dedicated to the pattern.”
Ahmad Naderi, owner of West Hempstead-based Taxi America, said his drivers have been victims in four attacks.
“The police need to be doing more. It’s too much time before they get to an incident,” Naderi said.
Krumpter said response times are “among the quickest anywhere in law enforcement.”