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Hempstead urged to step up patrols in high-crime areas

Residents with community activists along with members of

Residents with community activists along with members of the Law Enforcement Alliance hold boards detailing Long Islanders killed by gun violence. (Dec. 26, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A group of Hempstead residents and community advocates rallied Monday, calling for the police department to step up patrols in neighborhoods with the highest crime.

Police and elected officials also should hold more community meetings on crime and increase village efforts to buy new law enforcement technology, said residents, led by the Long Island Law Enforcement Alliance.

Residents said they were motivated to rally by increases in violent crimes in the village, as well as a shooting Thursday night that killed 22-year-old Jose Alvarado.

Hempstead has had 38 shooting victims in 2013, up from 24 in 2011, and 108 armed robberies, up from 97 last year, according to police department statistics.

"If our mayor's not going to step up and be strong on crime, we need a new mayor," said Dennis Jones, a member of the law enforcement alliance. "Our mayor has to get strong on crime."

Hempstead Assistant Police Chief Joseph Sortino released a statement that the department "continues to work vigorously with the Hempstead community to lessen crime in the village and create a safe environment for all residents."

Sortino added that the village's total crime rate has dipped by 9 percent since 2012, and felony assault and robberies are also down slightly.

Mayor Wayne Hall said he agreed with Sortino's statement.

"I think we're doing what we have to do," Hall said.

Jones said the village's ShotSpotter gunshot detective system could be combined with cameras to increase the likelihood of catching armed suspects. George Siberón, executive director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, said Hempstead's government needs to give its police department the tools to combat crime in the village.

"What needs to get done is to bring in the resources this community needs and deserves," Siberón said.

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