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Port Jeff looks to increase safety measures ‘in response to recent events’

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Port Jefferson, N.Y. Photo by John Feinberg

After two shootings in three months and reports of SLA violations, the Village of Port Jeff is taking action to ensure safety in the village during these busy summer months.

Six “immediate actions in response to recent events” were listed in a recent official newsletter from the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson earlier this month.

The list calls for “[C]ode enforcement immediately extended hours to 6 a.m.,” as well as assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department, the State Liquor Authority, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and Legislature Kara Hahn’s office.

According to Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, the village’s efforts are a response to the shooting that took place last month on Main Street near the harbor.

In that case, two men, ages 22 and 20, according to Suffolk police, were shot at approximately 2 a.m. outside a bar and “transported to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries.”

Ethan Ladd, 20, of Port Jefferson Station, has been accused of the crime, and is charged with two counts of first-degree assault. He was arraigned and released on $25,000 bail.

The incident was the second Main Street shooting during a three-month span. On March 24, Joseph Garcia, 19, of Port Jefferson Station, stands accused of fatally shooting David Bliss Jr., 25, of Shirley, farther north on Main Street.

Extra police presence

The village newsletter’s list of actions indicates “[e]xtended hours for SCPD in the Village” and “[m]eetings with Suffolk Police Department, 6th precinct Inspector Reilly for proactive engagement.”

Deputy Mayor Snaden said the village turned to the Suffolk County Police Department for more officers or extended shifts in the area.

“Whatever it is they would provide or be willing to provide for us we we’re willing to take,” she said in a telephone interview.

Deputy Inspector Eric D’Agostino of the 6th precinct said in a phone interview that the SCPD has “implemented specialized patrols of the area, but it’s something that we’ve done in the past.” He said these patrols consist of two officers that patrol upper port and lower port Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

These patrols are typically in affect from the week preceding Memorial Day to the week following Labor Day, as there is more general activity in the village during the summer season, D’Agostino said. He explained these patrols are responsible for quality of life issues, traffic-related complaints and checking in with merchants.

When asked if the specialized patrols are in response to the shootings in the village, D’Agostino replied “it’s not necessarily that, it’s everything taken as a totality.”

Unsafe drinking

The newsletter’s list also called for the State Liquor Authority to “crackdown on underage drinking,” which led the village to seek assistance from the state and Hahn’s office, Snaden said.

The deputy mayor said the village sought inter-office assistance for “further SLA checks on business after getting multiple reports of underage drinking,” an issue not mutually exclusive from last month’s act of violence.

“In connection with the investigation of the shooting we were told some of the people involved were underage and they had been drinking at numerous establishments in the village that night of the occurrence,” Snaden said. “So we were speaking with the state and Kara Hahn’s office to find out what was being done, what could be done.”

D’Agostino said unsafe drinking has already become a concern for his precinct this summer season.

He said SCPD 6th precinct officers and SLA inspectors jointly infiltrated Barito on Main Street earlier this month, though no underage drinking was found.

One of the owners “was charged with NYS General Business Law: Employing an Unlicensed Security Guards, an unclassified misdemeanor,” according to police. Three unlicensed security guards “were charged with NYS General Business Law: Unlicensed Security Guard, an unclassified misdemeanor.”

Barito’s capacity is 120 people. That evening, there were 348 people in the bar, according to police, and the establishment was closed for the remainder of the evening.

In addition to the SLA’s involvement, the village newsletter requests that alcohol-serving establishments acquire ID scanners that can detect fakes.

Snaden said the village cannot establish a requirement for businesses to have these scanners, but it is asking them to take the step, one of many ideas discussed to make the village more safe.

“We were kind of looking at any and all ideas to help prevent anything further from happening in the future.”

Port Jefferson aerial file photo by Andrew Theodorakis/Yellow House Images