Freeport receives grant for overtime pay


Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, alongside Long Beach Acting Police Department Commissioner Richard DePalma and Freeport Police Department Chief Michael Smith unveiled Tuesday, May 21 outside Long Beach City Hall a $60,000 grant initiative to bolster DWI enforcement on local roadways from May through early October.

“In a harrowing nine-day period last August, our Nassau County witnessed the tragic loss of seven lives and injuries to six others in four separate crashes involving impaired drivers,” Donnelly said. “These grants will empower the Long Beach and Freeport Police Departments to intensify their DWI patrols during this bustling season, safeguarding motorists and pedestrians alike. These efforts will undoubtedly save lives.”

DePalma echoed these sentiments, saying the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as “the hundred deadliest days” due to DWIs and associated factors. City Council President Brendan Finn also said the issue of drunk driving hits home for him, sharing his father was killed by a drunk driver in 1990.

“People come and enjoy our beaches and we want them to,” DePalma said. “We hope they come here and enjoy our beautiful beaches, but we want them to do it responsibly. So, if you come here and enjoy yourself, please do it responsibly. If you drink, please don’t drive.”

Over the span of 2014 to 2023, the Long Beach Police Department recorded 1,026 DWI arrests, including 268 drug-related DWI arrests.

Last year, with assistance from other grant funds from Donnelly, the Freeport Police Department doubled its arrests for individuals driving under the influence, totaling 61 arrests between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since the year’s onset, Freeport police have made 48 DWI arrests.

“The funds that she’s providing our deployment for are going to be used for specific locations, times and dates that we determined to have the most DWI and alcohol related offenses,” Smith said. “This is the second year in a row she has provided these funds. Due to her efforts, we have doubled the enforcement action and last year we doubled the amount of arrests we made because of alcohol related offenses.”

The grants, entirely funded by criminal asset forfeiture provided by the district attorney’s office, will furnish hundreds of hours of dedicated manpower to combat drunk and drugged driving, commencing from the Memorial Day holiday weekend, through Labor Day, and extending into early October. This timeframe is widely recognized as one of the deadliest on Nassau County roadways.

The augmented enforcement will enlist officers trained in field sobriety tests, breath analysis, and drug recognition. Patrols will concentrate on peak traffic periods, including weekends and holidays, as well as locations with a higher likelihood of DWIs, such as bars, waterfront areas, and outdoor dining establishments.

The county’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau is actively pursuing prosecutions and investigations into crashes occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year, resulting in multiple fatalities and injuries. With Memorial Day this weekend, the increase in overtimes will be immediate.

“This is an extremely important initiative, and it’s proven to work,” Finn said. “The program raises visibility and awareness. The goal isn’t to make arrests as much as it is to prevent funerals.”