Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder inducted a room full of residents to the Community Council task force on April 9. The council is comprised of individuals who “have a finger on the pulse of their communities,” said County Executive Laura Curran.
Ryder and Curran worked with county legislators to select residents that will address specific issues plaguing their communities. The representatives will meet with county police and their legislator periodically to develop plans of action, and discuss what can be done to curb local crime.
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton handpicked Steve Warshaw, Lawrence Ruisi, and David Heller from the Sea Cliff/Glen Head area to represent District 11.
“I chose our participants based on interactions I had with each of them during the past few years,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “Each have shown a special interest in the community, and have shown themselves to be attentive and diligent with residents’ concerns.”
Ruisi, of Glen Head, was drafted to the council’s executive committee, which includes one individual from each of the legislative districts, the police commissioner and certain deputies. Ruisi explained that the committee would meet once a month, during which time the police will give a broad and detailed presentation on a topic — be it opioids or MS-13 — for the residents to disseminate to their respective communities.
“This is an incredible opportunity for communities to get information from the police, and then bring their concerns and suggestions back [to law enforcement],” Ruisi said. “It’s a two-way pipe.”
What impresses him most, he said, is the process since the exchange of information is “horizontally integrated,” and doesn’t just come from the top down. “You have 19 districts sharing information with each other, so we’re able to better understand what’s going on from the commissioner’s point of view, as well as from other residents in the county. It’s incredibly transparent.”
Warshaw, who also hails from Glen Head, believes the council will be beneficial in keeping the county as safe as can be since it focuses on resident input. “Over the years cops have been thrown into tech-laden cars, and they don’t come out unless they have to; they don’t have their feet on the street,” he said. “This gets them the information on what’s really going on in the area. It’s different than numbers.”
Heller, a resident of Sea Cliff who sits on the executive board of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, said the council would help support civic rights. “I’m proactive about the community in general, and we need constituents in legislative areas willing to open up their mouths and speak,” he said.
Each representative plans to contribute to the council in his own way. Warshaw, who is the vice president of the Glenwood-Glen Head Business Association, plans to invite police to the association’s meetings and facilitate these discussions on a grander scale.
“If we have a well-trained police force that has a good relationship with the community, the safer it’ll be,” he said.
Heller has his sights set on addressing the viability of certain roads in Sea Cliff and Port Washington. “When the main street in Sea Cliff was messed up a few years ago, Delia’s office was highly effective in handling it,” he said. “There are streets that are in serious need of repair, and [with the council] working with her she could be even more effective than she is on her own.”
Ruisi believes the diversity of the council will lend itself to its success in combating county plight. “This is an extremely diverse group of people, from different demographics, different incomes, whose community’s compositions are different,” he said. “The council is taking all these ideas into consideration, and because of that it’s going to be very effective.”