Nassau County's acting police commissioner, Thomas Krumpter, met with roughly 100 local residents at the Elmont Public Library on March 7. The first order of business on many people's minds: Making sure that Problem Oriented Policing officer Edward Grim is returned to local streets, after he was reassigned to other duties earlier this year.
POP officers act as community liaisons, helping to keep the lines of communication open between police and residents.
Jamaica Square Civic Association President Claudine Hall organized the town hall meeting with Krumpter, largely to address residents' concerns about whether Grim, a well-loved figure in Elmont, would return to his POP assignment.
"We met, and [Krumpter] told me that it was a financial decision as to why [Grim] was relocated," Hall said. "I still wasn't satisfied with that, so I asked him if we could meet again to discuss this, and he agreed. We set up the meeting place to be public so that not just me, but anyone interested in learning about officer Grim would be able to and feel comfortable in meeting with him to ask their own questions."
Krumpter insisted that Grim would return to Elmont, but not immediately. "We are looking at his return to be, at the earliest, in April, and the latest, July," he said. "I stress that the decision to move officer Grim to another position is temporary, and the decision to do that was based on financial reasons. We have several people retiring this year from the department, and we need to adjust our budget to reflect that. We need to be able to cover their retirement packages."
Krumpter said he wanted Grim back in Elmont by July. "Our summer months are when we need our POP officers most," he said. "We need more people to patrol during the warm months, when more people are out."
Hall continued to assert that Grim should be returned to his Elmont duties sooner rather than later. "I'm asking you now, that if officer Grim doesn't return in April, can we please have another public meeting here at the Elmont Library, so other people can address it?"
Krumpter agreed to Hall's request, reiterating his open-door policy. "These meetings are what I enjoy most," he said. "It gives me an opportunity to get out and meet with people and see what issues are affecting them, and how I may help."
Residents also raised officers' response time as an issue. Jose Castrano, who manages 436 co-ops and apartments in the Valley Park Estates in Valley Stream, said residents in his complex have trouble reporting crimes when they see them, such as people smoking marijuana in their cars in the backyards.
"When I'm informed, I tell them to let the police know," Castrano said. "They do, and many times they're given the runaround. We need someone to do something, as sometimes even when they show up, no report is taken."
Krumpter said that the department's policy is to respond to every call, period. "When they don't respond, call me," he said. "This is the best way to see where the breakdown in reporting and communication is, through technology. Our cars, plus 911, are all monitored. I would suggest to them to call 911 first, and then we will see how officers respond."
Parking on side streets was a concern for Phyllis Ann O'Connell, who is president of the Franklin Square Civic Patrol. She cited a house fire that occurred on one block recently, where the fire trucks had difficulty maneuvering through the illegally parked cars.
"A block off of Hempstead Turnpike, people park there, even though they're not supposed to," she said. "When they park there, they block the people in who live there. I don't feel like calling 911 every day for that."
Krumpter referred her to the POP officers who remain in their positions. "Tell them which streets are your concern, and they will make a note of it and patrol there," he said.
Hal said she was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the commissioner, but wanted more definite answers about Grim's return. "I say that 85 percent of this situation is building trust," she said. The police "can't dismiss us and expect us to trust them."