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EDITORIAL: Police annex, cameras would help in Huntington Station

To remedy crime problems so persistent that they caused a school district to remove students from a Huntington Station school, the launch of a new community outreach center is a bit like chicken soup: It couldn't hurt, but it's not exactly prescription-strength medication.

The center that the Town of Huntington opened last week will have four town code enforcement officers and one Suffolk County cop. That could help with illegal housing and minor quality-of-life issues. So it's worth doing. But it closes at 4 p.m. weekdays, just as gangs and other perps are getting ready for the evening's mayhem. Clearly, something more is needed.

Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) wants the county to open a 24/7 police annex near the now nearly empty Jack Abrams School. He proposes to staff it with officers already on light duty as a result of injury or illness. He wants to spend $60,000 to buy more surveillance cameras focused on this high-crime area, having the officer on duty in the annex watch the monitors in real time. And Cooper wants to try the ShotSpotter gunshot-location system now in use in Nassau.

County Executive Steve Levy is resisting, not only because of the cost in the Station, but the potential cost of demands by other legislators with high-crime problems. Yes, fiscal prudence is important, but public safety is a core responsibility of government. Levy should listen to the community and do at least some of what Cooper proposes. Chicken soup isn't enough. hN