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Hempstead Village touts drop in crime

Newsday
Originally published: March 10, 2011 3:02 PM
Updated: March 10, 2011 3:10 PM
By AISHA AL-MUSLIM  

Crime in Hempstead Village has gone down by almost a quarter so far this year -- and officials said iits due to more officers policing the streets.

The overall crime rate in the Village of Hempstead went down 22 percent from Jan. 1 to March 6, when compared to the same period last year, Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. and Police Chief Joseph Wing announced at a news conference Thursday.

"We are happy with the results that we have so far," Hall said. "We are doing the best that we can."

According to the Hempstead Police Department report, total violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and assault, decreased by 31 percent from Jan. 1 to March 6. While total property crime has decreased by 17 percent since last year. The total number of arrests in the village has increased by about 54 percent last year compared to 2009.

You are going to see crime in the Village of Hempstead come to a complete stop," said Village Trustee Perry M. Pettus.

The mayor and the police chief credited the reduction in crime to the village hiring 25 officers within the past year to replace retired officers and increase its police force, currently at 126 officers.

"We think it is a good start for the year," said Wing, who pointed out for a short time the police force was operating 10 percent below its normal number. He added, "I like to credit the police officers for the hard work they have been doing."

Most property crime incidents in the village involved criminals breaking into vacant or foreclosed homes to steal the copper plumbing, according to Wing.

"Sometimes when you attack the smaller issues, the bigger issues go away," Wing said.

Diego Lopez, 63, owner of Rainbow Unisex Beauty Salon, said since more police are patrolling the streets, he feels safer running a business in the village. He said his salon used to get broken into all the time. Now, the break-ins have stopped, he said.

"I have seen more police officers," said Lopez, who has lived in Hempstead Village for 10 years. "Everything has really been a lot more tranquil."

But Mary Hoffman, 62, who also lives in the village, doesn't believe crime has decreased. "It's still the same thing to me," said Hoffman, shaking her head. "I don't think it went down."

Others like Reginal Lucas, president of the Hempstead Coordinating Council of Civic Associations, are giving the police the benefit of a doubt that crime has gone down. Lucas said he recalled that last year the village averaged one fatal shooting a month.

"A crime is not a crime unless it is reported," Lucas said. "The streets are somewhat safer."