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Task force makes 296 arrests in Huntington Station since summer creation

Alfred O'Donnell, left, of Huntington Station, speaks during

Alfred O'Donnell, left, of Huntington Station, speaks during a meeting with police officials at the South Huntington Library Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A task force to combat violent crime in Huntington Station has made 296 arrests since being formed this summer, Suffolk police said Wednesday.

Police Wednesday first disclosed details of the task force amid a public uproar this week over four unsolved killings in a year.

The Huntington Station violence task force is responsible for 438 charges in those arrests, police said. Nearly half -- 211 -- are for drugs and other misdemeanors. The rest are a combination of felonies, robberies, burglaries, warrants and other violations. Five arrests were for drug felonies; and 37 arrests were listed as "other felonies," such as assault and weapons possession. "Other violations," such as disorderly conduct, accounted for 77 arrests; and warrant arrests totaled 66.

In addition, police reported the task force has so far made 29 DWI arrests, 10 robbery arrests and three burglary arrests. Of the total number of arrests, 41 are related to local or international gangs.

Residents vented to a local police official Wednesday morning, claiming their neighborhood did not have enough police patrols and that police superiors and elected officials were not responsive to their needs.

The overflow crowd of about 200 people met with Deputy Insp. William Read, executive officer of the Second Precinct, and some of his officers at the South Huntington Library.

The meeting followed a tumultuous gathering the night before at Huntington Town Hall, where County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Chief James Burke spoke, but left before the Huntington Town Board public meeting began, upsetting residents waiting to voice their concerns.

"Why did they walk out last night?" resident Dianna Melhado, 38, asked Wednesday morning. She did not get an answer.

A spokeswoman for Bellone said Wednesday he left the town meeting because he had not been scheduled on the agenda to speak; his appearance there was to reassure residents that action would be taken to combat crime in the community.

"He recognized the fact that there was a community in distress that there was a large group of people marching on town hall holding this event and they're looking for answers," another Bellone spokesman said.

Huntington Station residents have been demanding change in the wake of the fatal stabbing of Maggie Rosales, 18, whose body was found Oct. 12 on Lynch Street. Hers was the fourth unsolved homicide in the area in about a year.

Most of the people at the meeting Wednesday shouted out questions without identifying themselves. Several complained about disrespectful officers who made them reluctant to cooperate with police.

When people filed complaints against officers, "the investigation comes back 'unfounded,' " one woman said.

"The disrespect of our police officers is really unfair," Read said at one point.

He said it was not true that police failed to aggressively investigate homicides of minorities in some parts of the town.

According to figures through Sept. 30 released Wednesday, the three killings in the Second Precinct are up from all of last year, when there were two. Aggravated assaults are on track to surpass or equal last year's figures, with 91 this year and 93 in 2013. Rapes and robberies were down by about half, from 20 rapes last year to 10 this year and from 62 robberies in 2013 and 32 this year. In 2012 the total of violent crimes were 188.

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