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Partnering with Police for Traffic Crackdowns

Great Neck Village Officials Association

Tighten your seatbelts, slow down and hang up that cell phone when you’re driving because local law enforcement departments are coordinating peninsula-wide enforcement blitzes in the coming months. Heeding the call of pedestrians and drivers who have written letters and made phone calls urging more aggressive traffic safety measures, community leaders in the Great Neck Village Officials Association met with an impressive array of officers from law enforcement agencies to strategize for a safer Great Neck.

GNVOA President Leonard Samansky, mayor of Saddle Rock, stated at the meeting that the traffic situation has reached a critical level of concern and that while various police departments in the villages are working hard to make a dent in the problem, there is a need for “a coordinated, peninsula-wide” approach to the problem to create a better culture of compliance in observing stop signs, cross walks, speed limits and “being good neighbors.”

Inspector Steven Williams, the commander of the 6th Precinct, led the panel discussion by saying that one part of the solution is beefing up enforcement and police visibility, but that traffic engineering plays a role as well. He encouraged local leaders to utilize the services of Nassau County’s traffic engineering division to alleviate unsafe road conditions.

There was also a discussion about the factors that make adding stop signs helpful or a hindrance in improving traffic safety. But aside from technical issues, the main focus was on ways in which local municipalities and police could turn around a trend of aggressive, unsafe and inattentive driving.

Mayor Susan Lopatkin, Kensington, said that village justices also play an important role in compliance by meting out serious fines for serious moving violations. It should be noted that villages receive a very small percentage of money collected for moving violations and that their emphasis on the matter is for compliance and safer streets rather than to accrue an income stream.

Chief John Garbedian, Great Neck Estates, noted that the “Buckle Up New York” program has been a huge factor in cutting down on traffic fatalities. It was agreed that the compliance level for seat belt use could be replicated for cell phone use compliance. Police can usually spot people texting or phoning because they begin to drive erratically.

Park Commissioner Robert Lincoln, who is also a member of the Vigilant Fire Department, added that we are approaching an historically dangerous time of year for youthful driving around graduation and prom celebrations. He said, “We have seen some horrific accidents…what can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen this year?”

Lt. George Banville, Kings Point, said that through his department’s working with high school principal Bernie Kaplan, and getting to know the limo drivers, there has been a decrease in issues during prom nights.

Lake Success Police Chief William Lang also works closely with school officials and parent leaders on the south side of town on matters of traffic safety.

Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen from the Plaza also urged that the officials involve citizens in planning approaches to improving traffic safety.

It was the consensus that specific crackdowns be planned and publicized in advance with the cooperation of the local newspapers.

Mayor Samansky will be setting up a steering committee to coordinate the efforts to improve traffic safety throughout Great Neck.

Inspector Williams also reported that burglaries in Great Neck are currently under the countywide average. He urged residents who have alarms to use them and to use timers for interior lighting when they are away.

Mayor Ron Cooper, Lake Success, noted that residents should have confidence in the integrity of their alarm systems. He said that in two instances in Lake Success, homeowners were alerted by their alarm companies that their systems had called in, but the homeowners, thinking the systems were in error, told the companies not to call the police. In both cases, burglaries were in progress.