12/20/14 9:15am
12/20/2014 9:15 AM

A Cutchogue man was arrested Thursday on a drunk driving charge in Laurel, Southold Town police said.

Erwin Gruber, 42, was driving shortly before 10 p.m. near the intersection of Peconic Bay Boulevard and Laurel Lane when police pulled him over after he failed to stop at a stop sign, officials said.

He failed standardized field sobriety tests police administer after alcohol was detected on his breath, officials said.

Mr. Gruber was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. He was transported to police headquarters and held for arraignment.

12/18/14 11:53am
12/18/2014 11:53 AM
Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone speaks during the press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon.  (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone speaks during the press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

East End police departments and villages across Suffolk County will benefit from a collective $6 million in sales tax revenue over the next three years, thanks to a new agreement announced by County Executive Steven Bellone during a press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The deal is one step in the right direction for securing a fair split in sales tax revenue for the twin forks — which aren’t policed by Suffolk County Police Department — a budgeting issue Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montuak) said he had been working on for more than a decade.

(more…)

12/17/14 5:06pm
12/17/2014 5:06 PM
Attorney William Keahon outside Southold Town Justice Court following Tuesday's bail hearing. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Defense attorney William Keahon outside Southold Town Justice Court following Tuesday’s bail hearing. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A Greenport resident who witnessed the fatal Dec. 5 crash that led to the arrest of local businessman John Costello is disputing a claim by Mr. Costello’s attorney that his client was not at fault.  (more…)

12/16/14 9:54am
Bail remained set at $250 for John Costello following Tuesday's court appearance. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Bail remained set at $250 for John Costello following Tuesday’s court appearance. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The 71-year-old Greenport man accused of being drunk behind the wheel before swerving into oncoming traffic and striking another car, killing its passenger on Dec. 6 had a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit, an assistant district attorney said in Southold Town Justice Court Tuesday.  (more…)

12/12/14 8:00am
The hand-held breath test, which is expected to become available in February, can detect a presence of THC on the breath for up to two hours after use. (Credit: courtesy photo)

The hand-held breath test, which is expected to become available in February, can detect a presence of THC on the breath for up to two hours after use. (Credit: courtesy photo)

Six months after New York State lawmakers voted to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes — and as pot laws become more relaxed across the U.S. — the availability of a breath analysis test to help determine if drivers are under the influence is that much closer.

(more…)

12/11/14 10:34pm
12/11/2014 10:34 PM
Police Chief Martin Flatley speaks at Thursday's information meeting on gangs. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Police Chief Martin Flatley speaks at Thursday’s information meeting on gangs. (Credit: Paul Squire)

More cops, more outreach, more communication and more school programs to target at-risk youth.

Those were the main steps to combat the influence of street gangs that Southold Town police, elected leaders and school administrators touted at an informational meeting held Thursday night — about two months after a gang shooting left three injured in Southold.

Police Chief Martin Flatley moderated the roughly 90-minute meeting and detailed some initiatives the police department had taken in response to the Oct. 14 shooting on South Harbor Road.

Chief Flatley said eight newly-hired police officers will patrol the town and an additional officer will be assigned to Greenport Village. One of those officers is from Ecuador and speaks Spanish fluently. Chief Flatley said he believes that officer can help build stronger ties with minorities in town.

“We definitely plan on using him as a liaison to the Spanish-speaking community down in Greenport,” Chief Flatley said.

He added he has continued to meet with East End police chiefs to discuss how to tackle gang activity. Those discussions have led to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office adding another investigator to the East End Drugs Task Force, Chief Flatley said. That new member will gather more intelligence on possible gang drug dealing operations in the area, he said.

Chief Flatley also said his department plans to meet with local community groups.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce said he believes the police department’s response to the shooting was quick and appropriate. He also praised the police and schools for thinking of ways to prevent future gangs.

“These problems didn’t happen overnight,” he said. “They’re not going to be solved overnight.”

The schools will also play a role in the anti-gang efforts, said David Gamberg, who serves as superintendent for both Greenport and Southold school districts.

Mr. Gamberg said he has reached out to Riverhead School District administrators to learn about their Council for Unity program, which encourages students to make good decisions in and out of school.

The Greenport School District is also creating a pilot program in grades 7-8 called Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT, a Department of Justice initiative to prevent students from joining gangs early, Mr. Gamberg said.

Those steps are the beginning of a larger effort to establish relations between the police department and the Hispanic community, many of whom come from a culture in which police are corrupt and aren’t trusted, police officials said Thursday.

About 100 people attended the meeting at the Peconic Community Center, including school board members and Greenport Village trustees. The informational forum featured a presentation on street gangs and how to recognize them by Sgt. Steven Lundquist, an investigator with the Gang Intelligence Unit of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Lundquist said the main gangs on the North Fork are the Bloods, MS-13 and the 18th Street gang. Though fewer gang members claim to live on the North Fork compared to areas in western Suffolk County or Nassau County, Sgt. Lundquist said gang members are “transient,” and may come to the North Fork to tour the area, set up criminal enterprises or lay low and avoid police.

The meeting itself was civil, with some residents focusing on the issue of graffiti, gang related or otherwise. Police said all graffiti should be reported to police.

Others asked what more could be done to stop gangs from spreading throughout the town. In response to a comment from the audience that Greenport schools should hire employees who speak Spanish, Mr. Gamberg said the district has several and plans to take select students to a leadership conference so “they can be part of the solution.”

Not all audience members were satisfied with the responses from police and school officials.

One resident, Dorothy Catapano, said she lives down the street from where the shooting occurred. She asked what kind of suspicious activity she should be looking for on her farm’s property.

Police Chief Flatley said residents should report anything suspicious to police, but Ms. Catapano later said she was still unsure of what “suspicious” meant.

“‘See something, say something,’” she said to reporters after the meeting. “But what am I looking for?”

During a question-and-answer session in the meeting, Chief Flatley was asked where the Guardian Angels, a private community watch group, fit into the official plans for action. 

“They’re not under my control,” Chief Flatley said, adding he believes the hiring of eight new police officers adequately addresses patrolling needs.

But he did say he hoped the group would share any information it receives about gang activity with police.

The organization’s founder and CEO, Curtis Sliwa, said the organization will make weekly patrols around the area.

Benjamin Garcia, a Guardian Angels patrol director, told reporters “everyone has their own opinion,” and said his group will continue to patrol the area.

He then spoke with Ms. Catapano and offered her a flier, suggesting the Guardian Angels could patrol near her property or that she could start a Southold chapter.

psquire@timesreview.com