Huntington's Second Precinct Insp. Kevin Williams, left, speaks in his office...

Huntington's Second Precinct Insp. Kevin Williams, left, speaks in his office with community ambassadors, from left, Ken Johnson of Greenlawn, Kevin Thorbourne and Dan Rivera, both of Huntington Station. Credit: Rick Kopstein

For Dan Rivera, pastor of Huntington Assembly of God church in Huntington Station, being a Suffolk Police Community Ambassador provides another way for him to support his community.

“My personal mission is to love and serve,” Rivera, 40, of Huntington Station, said. “This gives us an opportunity to do that and bridge the gap between the community and the police." 

The volunteer ambassador program, which was rolled out about eight months ago, is aimed at giving community leaders direct access to Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison to discuss crime, quality of life and other issues with him, Harrison said. The hope is that it will foster increased awareness on both sides.

Harrison said the program offers an opportunity at least once a month for an exchange of information between him and the ambassadors. There are 32 ambassadors across the county’s seven precincts. 

“It’s a two-way street of information sharing,” Harrison said. “Their role is to make sure that there’s information being exchanged between them as ambassadors and their constituents and then providing the information to me.”

The initiative also helps him to “hold this department accountable to address concerns that the community may have that may not be addressed in a timely manner.”  

He said he also shares information so it can be passed along to the community.

A similar program was in place when he was a precinct commanding officer for the New York Police Department, he said.

New police precinct head chosen

In Huntington, the five ambassadors for the Second Precinct put their influence to the test this winter by helping to select Kevin Williams as the new leader for the precinct. As part of the process, the seven candidates for the inspector job were interviewed by the precinct’s ambassadors.

“This is going to be the gold standard of community building going into the future — allowing community members to have a say-so regarding who they would like to see as their precinct commanders,” Harrison said.

The ambassadors were familiar with Williams, as he has served the precinct in several positions over the years since joining the county department in 1988.

Williams said the ambassadors' on-the-ground knowledge will support his community-based management style.

“It’s all about community policing,” he said. “It’s very important to have the input, the communication, the cooperation from the community because it encourages us and helps us to do the job.”

Kevin Thorbourne, 53, an ambassador and director of minority affairs for the Town of Huntington, said Williams' familiarity with the precinct was a bonus.

“We’ve seen how he has worked in the community before and we were happy with what we saw,” Thorbourne, of Huntington Station, said.

Greenlawn resident Ken Johnson, 37, a small-business owner, said the ambassador program aligns the community and the police.

“If law enforcement works with the community and vice versa we will be one team combating crime,” Johnson said.

Competition is stiff to be an ambassador, Harrison said. There is a waiting list of 10 people.

“It’s an exclusive group of individuals,” he said. "I don’t need 90 ambassadors; I want to make sure I have the right ambassadors in the right places.”


Email for more information about becoming a Suffolk Police Community Ambassador.

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