Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said on Tuesday that crime had dropped in the county.
“Under [Ryder’s] leadership, the NCPD has implemented important crime-fighting initiatives, and I’m proud to say that they’re working,” Curran said at a news conference.
She cited the 15 homicides in 2017, the lowest number in Nassau since the 1960s. And the decline in homicides continued: there were three before April 23 in 2017, but only one so far this year.
Almost all crimes were down from the same period last year: burglaries dropped from 258 to 205; stolen vehicles decreased from 127 to 118; and assaults, both felony and misdemeanor, fell from 314 to 292.
But grand larceny was up, 900 to 962, as was rape (three reported in the county this year, while there were none last year).
Total major crimes decreased slightly, from 1,525 last year to 1,520 in 2018.
“Of course, we still face major threats,” Curran said.
Those threats were the increasing use of opioids, gang culture and residents’ concerns over mass shootings that had taken place in different parts of the country.
In order to tackle the first issue, Curran announced a county program that tracked the location of overdoses would be named after Natalie Ciappa, who died of a heroin overdose 10 years ago. Her father was present on Tuesday and said the county was making progress after years of weak initiatives.
“I finally feel hopeful,” he said. “Let’s turn this around because too many kids are dying. This regime is the right one, finally, and I feel great.”
Ryder then spoke about the overdose mapping program and said that community involvement would be essential to fighting the crisis. In four communities in the county targeted by the department, the police had made over 300 arrests related to heroin with many more made countywide.
He also said the department was using social media to reach 18-to-25-year-olds, who he said were most vulnerable to opioids.
“We’re starting to see things trending in the right direction,” he said.
Ryder detailed some of the steps the department had taken to improve safety in schools following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year. The Police Department has trained over 180 principals and superintendents at public schools for how to handle an emergency and has officers stop by schools once per day.
He also took time to address the MS-13 gang, which last week threatened to kill police officers in the county.
“You’re not going to threaten a cop in this county … without getting a reaction from law enforcement,” Ryder said.
He said the department increased patrols in Hempstead, where the threat was issued, and made 46 arrests over a four-day period, including 34 drug users associated with the gang. MS-13, which operates around the country, was blamed for several recent murders on Long Island. Many of the gang’s members come from Central America.
Ryder also expressed thanks for support from the community and the county executive in the wake of the threats.