STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — NYPD brass and borough officials sounded off on February 6, 2018, discussing the borough’s heroin epidemic. The symposium was held in front of a few hundred people at the Jewish Community Center in Seaview, as part of a community safety meeting hosted by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island.
The CommUNITY meeting was novel because COJO also coordinated the Security Meeting with Faith Base Groups and civic organizations of Staten Island. A look at the packed standing room crowd reflected people from all walks of life is a testimony of COJO’s concern for the welfare and wellbeing of all of Staten Island.
The audience was addressed by NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon, Councilman Steve Matteo, Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis, Mendy Mirocznik, President of COJO, Scott Maurer, CEO and Executive Vice-President of COJO, Chief Nilda Hofmann, the newly appointed NYPD Chief of the Community Affairs Bureau, Captain Mark C. Molinari, of the Hate Crimes Unit and by Assistant Chief Kenneth Corey, the newly appointed Borough Commander of Patrol Borough Staten Island. Rabbi Alvin Kass, NYPD Chief Chaplain and Imam Dr. Tahir Kukaj, of the Albanian Cultural Center, made the invocations. Also in attendance was Dennis Quirk, President of the New York State Court Officers Association, New York City Civil Court Judge Susan Quirk, Jeffery Ward, Staten Island Trustee of the Detective Endowment Association, Richmond County Public Administrator Anthony Catalano, FDNY Borough Commander Richard Howe, FDNY Chief Brian Gorman, and the Knights of Pythias represented by Errol Lewis, Philip Feigel and Jeffery Freez.
Also present was the borough’s top NYPD brass such as the Commanding Officers of the Island’s Police Precincts, Deputy Inspector Joseph Simonetti from the 120, Deputy Inspector Matthew Harrington from the 121, Deputy Inspector Ebony Washington from the 122, Captain Kenneth Noonan from the 123, Inspector Thomas Delahanty from Patrol Borough Staten Island, Inspector Vincent J. Patti from Patrol Borough Staten Island, Captain Allen G. Larson from Patrol Borough Staten Island, Captain Andrew Hillery from Strategic Response Unit as well as other representatives from Patrol Borough Staten Island and One Police Plaza.
Maurer, who moderated the panel discussion portion of the evening, began the program by welcoming all those in attendance and stated, “the importance of the COJO food pantry in working together with the community and the NYPD in helping to foster better community relations.” Maurer added, “that through pantry interaction and helping the community COJO and the NYPD has touched the lives of thousands of Staten Islanders. It is through this interaction that we have helped build bridges of friendship and trust.”
Mirocznik, congratulated Commissioner O’Neill and the NYPD for bringing crime down to a low that New York City has not witnessed since the 1950’s and stated, “that thanks to Commissioner O’Neill’s vision of bringing together our elected officials, civic leaders and members of the Clergy we have been able to forge a partnership of people committed to public safety and a better Staten Island.” Mirocznik praised District Attorney McMahon and Borough President Oddo for their leadership in jointly working together in fighting crime and in enhancing the quality of life for all Staten Islanders.”
Borough President James Oddo applauded the police department’s effort to engage with the community and give locals an opportunity to voice their concerns. “When the police commissioner himself comes to Staten Island, and all top brass is here, and you have a chance to listen to them, to talk with them — I think it’s a good night,” Oddo said.
NYPD Commissioner O’Neil thanked Mirocznik, Maurer and thanked COJO for being, “a great community partner of the NYPD” and he further acknowledged, “the staunch support that COJO has for the NYPD”.
O’Neill also gave a run-down of the agencies and joint task forces combating the issue, from federal authorities to police precincts on Staten Island.
O’Neill credited the officers serving under him with the city’s continued crime reduction and said he didn’t see why the trend shouldn’t continue if everyone works together.
“I know what they do,” he said. “I lived that life for a long time.”
Despite applauding the lower crime rates, officials noted the need to do more to address the borough’s heroin crisis.
Last year saw 86 overdose deaths on the Island, making Staten Island the only county in New York that saw a decline in overdose deaths, District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said. All members of law enforcement said the main goals in fighting the drug epidemic are prosecuting dealers and helping addicts get the treatment they need.
“We’re going to go up the food chain,” O’Neill said, about the higher-level dealers the NYPD is targeting.
Corey, who has lived in the borough for over 20 years, expressed that his focus is working to address the issue. “As a Staten Islander, as a father of two young children, this is a top priority for us,” he said.