State Assemblyman Brian Curran said he was sitting on the porch of his Lynbrook home on Aug. 18 when he looked at his flagpole and saw that his Blue Lives Matter American flag was gone.
“I asked my wife if she took it down,” Curran recounted, “and then we noticed that the rope to the flag pole was snipped and the flag was taken.”
Curran said that Larry Lombardo, a retired Port Authority police officer and fellow Lynbrook resident, gave him the flag earlier this summer. Curran decided to fly the flag — which had a royal blue stripe signifying support for police officers — outside of his home on Sherman Street.
He said he couldn’t remember the last time he saw it, but Lombardo told him that he hadn’t seen it when he drove by Curran’s home on Aug. 13.
Curran and his wife, Rosemarie, called the Lynbrook Police Department and filed a report. “I’ve never made any bones about being a big supporter of law enforcement,” Curran said. “If someone’s going to come on your property and cut down a flag that just shows your basic support of people that get up in the morning every day and protect the public, I don’t understand that.”
The Currans learned that they weren’t the only residents affected. According to Brian, three other homes have had items supporting law enforcement officers stolen or vandalized. Shortly after their flag disappeared, Rosemarie saw a Facebook post from a Taft Avenue resident who said that blue ribbons hanging from a tree outside their home were slashed. A flag was also stolen from a home on John Street, and Curran said he heard of another instance in which a flag was taken. As of press time, only two incidents were reported to Lynbrook police.
“At first I was disappointed that somebody had come onto the property and stolen the flag from the flagpole,” he said. “… When I was told by the Police Department that our house wasn’t the only house in which a Blue Lives Matter flag was stolen, I got furious about it.”
The next morning, Rosemarie decided to order a new flag from Mineola Flag Pole, but when she called the store, she was told that Lynbrook Mayor William Hendrick and Sgt. Brian Paladino, the vice president of the Lynbrook Police Benevolent Association, were already there, buying replacement flags for those who had theirs stolen.
“We are very surprised that people would do that in Lynbrook — especially when it’s about the cops,” Hendrick said. “We support our police. That’s vandalism and trespassing. It’s nasty.”
Hendrick encouraged anyone with information about the incidents or security cameras near the impacted homes to contact the Police Department. He added that all callers would remain anonymous. Curran expressed his gratitude to Hendrick and Paladino for replacing the flag, but noted that he was still upset that people would destroy personal property. “I think it was a very nice gesture,” he said. “I just wish it didn’t happen under these circumstances.”
Paladino said that only two of the incidents were reported to police, adding that there could be more victims who haven’t come forward. He noted that the lanyards used to hang the flags were also cut at the two homes whose residents filed official reports.
As for potential suspects, Paladino said the police didn’t have much to go on, but they asked residents to be on alert and to report anything that could be helpful. He added that the LPD intended to prosecute anyone caught damaging or stealing property.
Paladino also insisted that these acts were not consistent with how police officers are treated and viewed in Lynbrook. “Overall, this town is awesome for their support of the police, and it’s an honor to be a Lynbrook cop,” he said. “In so many communities, the police are viewed as an enemy, but we are really known as a friend here, and we know that and appreciate it.”
In addition, Paladino said, he bought a flag for his own house, and didn’t hesitate to join Hendrick in purchasing flags to reciprocate the support shown by Lynbrook residents. “It was supporters of ours who had lost the flag,” he said, “so we wanted to show love and respect for them because of their love and respect for us.”