Neighborhood watch groups sought in Huntington Station
Huntington Station residents, anxious to set up neighborhood watch associations to help address safety issues in the area, met last night with police and community leaders who helped explain the process.
The seminar, held at the Big H Community Center on New York Avenue, was sponsored by the community organization/civic group development subcommittee of the Huntington Station Action Coalition. The coalition was created last fall by the town to share ideas and plans on how to develop and implement coordinated plans for Huntington Station's revitalization.
About two dozen people listened intently as Officer John Chiquitucto, from the Second Precinct, outlined procedures on creating an effective community policing program.
"This is not the concept of the nosy neighbor," said Chiquitucto, community liaison officer for Huntington. "It's being concerned with each other's safety, property and community pride. You become the eyes and ears of your community."
In recent months, efforts to revitalize the neighborhood have intensified as residents saw an uptick in violence, including shootings, a federal gang bust and the stabbing of three people last week.
"We need more of a police presence but also people in the community need to step up to the plate," said resident Angela Brown, who added she would like neighborhood watch groups across Huntington Station. "I think it would unite the community."
So far in reaction to public outcry, police have increased their presence in the area, the town has cracked down on code enforcement violations, cleared land of trees where known illegal activity was taking place and created the action coalition.
The Huntington Station Action Coalition, which is chaired by Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, has 20 members from business, government, education, law enforcement and the community. The coalition's other subcommittees include those focused on housing and code enforcement; immigration management and policing and enforcement.
But residents said they don't want to leave everything to government agencies to keep where they live safe.
"In order for the community to be a better place you have to be a part of the solution," said Ave Maria Gonzalez, who wants to start a watch in her area. "Sometimes people are better at policing themselves then waiting for someone else."
Rebecca Sanin, co-chairwoman of the sponsoring subcommittee, said she thinks at least 10 watch groups will emerge from the meeting.
"People have started to understand that the community has to collaborate with police if they want to see a change," she said.