The Nassau County Police Department installed a road sign in front of the Ramada Inn at 1000 Sunrise Highway in Rockville Centre Aug. 25 that warned those traveling eastbound into Baldwin of a “high-crime area” and to “lock your doors.”
Both the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and Baldwin Civic Association reached out to elected officials as well as the 1st Precinct as soon as they were made aware of this sign, while Baldwinites took to social media to condemn it, which Mark Prevatt said he hoped was “somebody’s idea of a really bad practical joke.”
At 1:54 p.m., Baldwin Civic Association President Darien Ward emailed County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Democrat from Rockville Centre, about the sign, stating, “Baldwin is not a high-crime area, and the BCA resents the implication on its roadways…This is outrageous.”
Mulé emailed back from her vacation, saying she had spoken with County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, who assured her “it is being taken care of immediately.”
By nightfall, the NCPD had changed the messaging to “secure your property,” “lock your doors” and “take your keys.”
A number of Baldwin residents said, however, that they were not satisfied with the changes. Carla Diane commented on Facebook, “I don’t like the wording or the sign either…There is no way to reword what they’re trying to convey…This portrays Baldwin the wrong way.”
Griffin emailed the NCPD later that night, writing, “I am interested in finding out the decision-making process that led to this.” She then reached out to County Executive Laura Curran, herself a Baldwin resident, asking that the sign be removed, and it was taken down by noon.
The Chamber of Commerce expressed gratitude toward Curran and Mulé for working with them to reword the message and then have the sign taken down. They wrote, “Baldwin is an amazing town, and we are proud to live, work, play and own businesses here!”
Of the sign, Chamber President Erik Mahler told the Herald, “That language is absolutely unacceptable…It’s a false impression that Baldwin is a high-crime area.”
On July 29, the Ramada Inn in Baldwin was the site of a shooting and assault, in which a man fired several shots into a crowded room, striking a 20-year-old man who was taken to the hospital in stable condition. But NCPD Public Information Officer Michael Usinger said the sign was installed in response to an increase in car larcenies, not to the shooting.
The Herald asked for the NCPD data on the recent car larcenies, but police had not responded by press time on Monday.
According to NCPD data, major crime has decreased in Baldwin since 2018. Total robberies, however, have remained steady with 13 in 2018, 16 in 2019, 16 in 2020 and six in the first half of 2021. Grand larcenies have also been constant, at around 90 per year. Stolen vehicles decreased from 20 in 2018 to two in the past six months.
The NCPD also recently announced that while major crimes are down across the board, gunshot incident numbers countywide are up. From 2009 to 2019, the NCPD had reported a reduction of 36.5 percent in firearm-related violent crimes, as well as a decrease of 27.5 percent in shooting incidents involving injury and of 14.3 percent of shooting victims from 2014 to 2019.
In 2007, Baldwin was ranked by Money Magazine in top 25 best places to live in the country. The magazine described the area as a “haven for families” that “draws a diverse population who move to the town for its schools, and its proximity to healthy job markets and beaches.”