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Huntington public safety director quits

Ken Lindahl spoke at a roundtable of journalists

Ken Lindahl spoke at a roundtable of journalists at Huntington Town Hall on June 23, 2011. Credit: Steve Pfost

Huntington's public safety director, Ken Lindahl, has resigned to pursue unspecified opportunities after nearly four years in the post.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said Lindahl's decision, which was announced at Tuesday's town board meeting, followed several weeks of discussion about changes that will have the agency focus more on code enforcement than crime.

Under Lindahl, the department worked closely with Suffolk County police, a relationship that became more visible after a spate of killings in Huntington Station.

"He decided that it was time to go," Petrone said. "We're changing the direction that the department was going. We feel that we really have to commit more of our resources to code enforcement."

The agency will focus more on such things as illegal housing, graffiti, litter and blight, Petrone said.

Lindahl, who could not be reached for comment, gave notice Tuesday, his last day. Joe Rose, a town code supervisor, was named as interim director.

Petrone said a misconception had developed that Town Hall is responsible for policing crime. He cited an October meeting at which hundreds of residents protested that month's killing of high school senior Maggie Rosales and several other homicides in Huntington Station.

Rosales' death was then the fourth unsolved slaying in about a year -- a local man has been charged with killing her -- and town officials and law enforcement were publicly called on to stop the violence. "We're not the Suffolk County Police Department," Petrone said.

Lindahl is a former New York City police inspector, and while Petrone praised his work linking the department with local police, he said he does not want major deployments of code enforcement officers at crime scenes.

Public Safety Deputy director Dennis Ryan will be a liaison with Suffolk police, Petrone said.

James McGoldrick, one of the outspoken Huntington Station residents at the October meeting, said he agrees with Petrone's approach. "Now it's about fixing the problem," he said.

But Xavier Palacios, a Huntington Station lawyer and co-founder of the community group Huntington Matters, said he thinks public safety should focus on crime. "If Frank [Petrone] thinks this is going to solve crime, people are still going to show up at his door if it doesn't. This is a tactical move that he's making."


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