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Concerned Citizens Gather In Plainview

The Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community held their Annual Winter Safety Forum at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library recently, and as per the norm for this passionate civic organization, security and preparedness were indeed the name of the game.

Carol Meschkow, president of the Concerned Citizens, started the group 20 years ago originally as a two-week campaign; however, it soon took on a life of its own and is still going strong today, she said.

“We’re environmental advocated and we’re involved in education, and we have a Neighborhood Watch program that started about eight years ago in response to some very horrendous home invasions,” she said. “We have been working with the police in trying to be the eyes of the community, and we’re involved with other organizations and communities...we’re very broadly-based.”

In addition to holding periodic meetings throughout the year as public circumstances demand, Meschkow said that the Concerned Citizens’ Annual Winter Safety Forum is an important event for getting out vital information and services to the community.

“We have a very good relationship with out local Problem Oriented Police (POP) Officers, and they have been coming down to our annual meetings for several years now to bring the community holiday tips and crime statistics,” she said. “This year, we’re also very lucky to have Officer Sharon Galvin, who will give us an enlightening presentation on cyber-bullying, and our local Water District will be giving us ideas on how to winterize our homes.”

Sharon Galdin, who works in the Nassau County Police’s Community Affairs Unit, gave an eye-opening seminar on the perils and pitfalls of being a teen in the Internet age; specifically, she focused on cyber-bullying.

“Children are being verbally picked on at school, but then they go home and it’s on their cell phone, it’s on their computer...it’s all around them. We try to educate children that they are very important, because some of them have hurt themselves because of this,” she said. “If someone is cyber-bullying you, you need to tell someone...there is help out there, because while it has taken a while, the law is finally catching up to technology, and that sort of harassment will no longer be tolerated.”

Galdin also stressed the importance of avoiding strangers on the Internet, and the concept of not sharing any pictures or information about yourself that you wouldn’t share in person; once something is on the internet, she said, anyone can see it, which could have unforeseen repercussions down the line.

Inspector John Berry, Commander Officer of the Nassau County Police Second Precinct, and POP Officers Paul Lamonica and James Fucito presented home security tips followed by a positive update on crime statistics in the Plainview-Old Bethpage area.

“Last year there were 44 burglaries in Plainview...this year there has only been 16. We’re not saying that 16 is good — even one is too much — but we did have a tremendous drop,” Fucito said. “Larcenies from autos are down as well, from 21 to 19. The reason we get a lot of auto larcenies is because people will just leave their iPads, iPods, and laptops right on the front seat, and they’re easy pickings. Just take those things and put them in your trunk and that will cut down on the larcenies in cars tremendously.”

Plainview Water District Commissioners Joel Kessler and Andrew Bader made a brief appearance at the Forum, and with the Winter months nearly upon us, imparted advice upon the audience on how to avoid water pipe mishaps as the cold weather settles in.

“If you go on vacation without taking the right precautions, you could come home to a big bill if one of your water pipes bursts,” Kessler said. “It’s important to wrap your pipes, make sure that the temperature doesn’t go below a certain point, and making sure there’s oil in your tank the entire winter.”

“Also, shutting off the interior water supply that goes to your outdoor spigot, and then opening up the spigot,” added Bader. “I didn’t realize this as a new homeowner years ago, and my pipe cracked and I had a leak...this is good information to pass along.”

In addition, another service offered that evening were safety identification cards and mini-CDs that were being provided at no cost by the Masons of the State of New York to aid law enforcement in the event that a child is abducted.

The cards and CDs, which interface with the police’s Amber alert system, include vital information to assist authorities in tracking down a missing child, including pictures, age, height, weight, fingerprints, and more; arming cops with this can shave off precious minutes from their response time, which can prove essential in ensuring the safe return of any child.

Veronica Fera of Plainview had brought her son and daughter to the Forum to get their IDs, and thought that the evening gave her both necessary safety facts and, most importantly, piece of mind.

“I’m a little concerned about my children and strangers, and I think it’s just important to have the information readily available that I might not think of when I’m under pressure...I can just hand the CD over to police,” she said. “I think the police tonight were very informative and helpful...I think it was very nice of them to come out tonight, and they gave us some information that we didn’t know. More people should come to events like this.”

Meschkow said that it’s the duty of each and every citizen to work hand-in-hand with the police to make for a safe community; the authorities are our friends, and that together, we call can make a difference, she said.

“We’re so grateful...our local law enforcement works 24-7, and if they take the time to enhance their bond with the community, I just feel safer that way,” she said. “The more aware we are, the more people that we know are cooperating, the more sign deterrents there are, the better it is....we’re very happy to have the police with us tonight, and the support of the community that we have. Plainview-Old Bethpage is a great community, and I’ve very proud to be here.”

To find out more about the Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, visit their website at www.concernedcitizenspob.org.