State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, upset that the Riverside state police barracks will no longer have a manned front desk or dispatcher, are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to recruit a new class of N.Y. State Troopers and say thy are committed to making sure the 2016-2017 state budget includes funds for training new recruits.
LaValle and Thiele said they recently met with officials at the barracks and were disappointed to learn that the front desk will be unmanned, the doors will be locked, dispatch will be handled from state police headquarters in Farmingdale, and at certain times, there will be no troopers in the building to unlock the doors in an emergency situation.
“Reducing the Trooper presence and locking the facility is a step backward in stemming crime in the area,” the state lawmakers said. “Additional man power and face-to-face, personal interaction are important components in building dependable, trusting and workable relationships between our police and residents.”
“Much of these changes have been implemented due to a shortage of state troopers in our region,” according to LaValle and Thiele.
They said they wrote to the governor about the staffing shortage they say prompted the changes in Riverside.
“While we understand that many agencies and departments experience staffing issues from time to time, it appears as though this staffing shortage is negatively affecting the police services provided to our communities,” they wrote.
The new barracks was built in 2004 specifically to bring the troopers’ presence to Riverside, a high-crime area in Southampton Town, just south of downtown Riverhead. The barracks had been located on Route 24 in Flanders, east of Bellows Pond Road. It was hoped the troopers’ presence in Riverside would help prevent crime and increase the crime-fighting capabilities of the town police force in Riverside. The Town of Southampton donated the land for the barracks.
“It took a tremendous amount of work at all levels to obtain the land and secure the necessary State dollars to build and outfit this facility,” the lawmakers said.
Maj. Joseph Tripodo, commander of Long Island’s Troop L, told Newsday last week the dispatch operation in the Riverside barracks could be moved to Farmingdale by the end of this month.
The move to consolidate dispatch operations and take a trooper off the front desk will free up troopers for East End patrols, according to the commander. The consolidation is part of a statewide effort.
The barracks — the only one outside of the Farmingdale headquarters that had a dispatch operation and a desk officer — will remain open and in use, according to Tripodo.
Troop L has approximately 150 uniformed troopers. There are 3,800 statewide, according to Newsday.
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