Police Chief Jim Read told the Town Board Tuesday at its work session that his department had been recertified by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services as an accredited law enforcement agency in the state.
The state agency audits police departments and other law enforcement agencies to achieve four goals, Chief Read told the board; to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of departments; to promote increased coordination among other law enforcement agencies to ensure appropriate training; and to promote public confidence.
The Shelter Island Police Department was accredited by the state five years ago, the chief said, and now has received its re-accreditation. He noted that it’s not just a once every five years situation, though, but there are ongoing reviews, evaluations and updates.
The importance of the state’s recognition is that the department is deemed “a professional police operation, holding us to the same standards as law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” the chief said.
He noted that, “We try to take the extra step for the community every day, on every call.”
Chief Read thanked his entire staff, singling out Sergeant James Cronin for all his efforts in the re-accreditation process.
The chief also reported on the town’s hazard mitigation plan. These plans are outlines of potential hazards in case of, as the chief said, mainly natural disasters, such as storms. When a plan is in place, the town can then seek grants from the federal government to mitigate damage done and to prevent identified problems in the future.
The grants are called “hazard mitigation grants,” which funnel money from the federal government to states, which then provide money to local municipalities after natural disasters. At the local level, municipalities kick in 25 percent of the total grant money.
In 2008 the town adopted a plan and it’s up for renewal. A working group including the chief, Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr., Town Attorney Laury Dowd and Councilman Peter Reich worked on the update.
The complete hazard mitigation plan is on the Shelter Island Police Department website.
Included in the plan are vulnerabilities the town would have in case of, for example, a horrific storm, including integrating radio communications connecting the highway, fire and police departments, as well as Emergency Medical Services and shelters that are set up during emergency events.
The chief also mentioned the issue of raising Westmoreland Drive, which during sustained rain can get cut off from other roads, making it difficult for first responders to get to the area.
In other Town Board business:
• Resident Vincent Novak took the town and the Reporter to task for what he said was misinformation about the water quality of Fresh Pond. He said a feature article last week in the paper, “It’s safe to go into the water,” was misleading and harmful.
The article reported on tests from an independent laboratory that Town Engineer John Cronin, in a letter to Ms. Dowd, said didn’t appear “to represent any problems.”
Mr. Cronin further wrote, and was quoted: “… for the date, time and type of sample, results indicate that Fresh Pond was in an acceptable state based on the examined parameters.”
Mr. Cronin noted that, as the article said, the test may just be a snapshot and the pond must be tested on a regular basis to get an acceptable, long-term determination of its health.
Mr. Novak said the town and the Reporter were irresponsible by promoting swimming in Fresh Pond.
He disputed the analysis of the test results and said Fresh Pond remains a dangerous place to swim, especially for young people and those with compromised immune systems.
A “no swimming” sign posted at the pond was removed by the town in mid-July, even though a “Not a Bathing Beach” sign remains. Mr. Novak asked that the original “no swimming” sign be put back.
“Bottom line is to protect the most vulnerable by making them aware,” Mr. Novak said.
• The Town’s Green Option Committee Chairman Tim Purtell presented the board with “A Map of Walkable Open Space & Preserved Lands.”
Still a work in progress, it’s a handsome, foldable map similar in size to the free Shelter Island maps available in many places around town, with information of preserved areas of the Island with readable, easy to follow directions.
The map won’t require town funds. Mr. Purtell said the committee was seeking a business to foot the bill, with a space dedicated on the map for the donor’s name and logo. He estimated the cost at about $400 for about 1,500 copies.
Mr. Purtell thanked his colleagues, Donald D’Amato and Dan Fokine for their help and ideas.
Councilwoman Chris Lewis complimented the work, noting that it was “easy to see, easy to grasp. A great effort.”