Although the crime rate continues to drop in Wantagh and Seaford, police remain concerned about an upswing in heroin use, said Police Inspector Joseph Barbieri of the Seventh Precinct.
At a community forum on May 29 at the Wantagh Public Library, Barbieri said that, while the crime rate has dropped by 16 percent year to date, arrests are up 81 percent, many because of an increase in heroin use by young adults between ages 20 and 25.
“The problem drives crime,” he said. “We are a high area for heroin arrests…so is Massapequa.”
Barbieri urged residents to call police if they see suspicious behavior and to write a car’s license plate number as well.
“We are trying to brainstorm on how to address this problem,” he said. “Heroin is an addiction, a disease. I don’t know if arrests are the answer.”
Residents said they want to see a larger police presence in the community.
“There are some hot spots for heroin,” said one man, referring to Wantagh Park and the surrounding area. Others claimed to see drug transactions near Mermaid and Woodland Avenues. Dealers have also been spotted near the Well Pumping Station by DeMott Avenue in Wantagh, attendees said.
“How can we just these dealers off the street?” one woman asked.
“The dealers are local; the users are local,” Barbieri said.
He explained that there are five county officers in special operations who help patrol the area in unmarked cars “until they are redeployed,” When asked how often unmarked cars patrol, Barbieri said “I don’t want to say, but our officers have made over 100 arrests. We knew this would be a problem when we attacked the oxy[coton] problem.”
Additionally, Barbieri said the narcotics unit works with the city, state and federal law enforcement offices and with the courts to try and drive down heroin use.