Police Prepare for Influx

Changes in strategy and tactics

    The unofficial start of summer kicks off this weekend with several changes in the strategy and tactics of the East Hampton Town Police Department.

    Late-night shenanigans in downtown Montauk, according to Chief Michael Sarlo, will be dealt with more rapidly by the addition of officers on bicycles. Participating personnel, who have been trained at the Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood, will begin patrols this weekend.

    Bike patrols, said the chief in an email, are similar to foot patrols, only stealthier. “They are silent, and often are able to ride up on situations that a patrol car would not have access to, or that its mere presence would alert offenders. Alleyways, parking lots, etc. are more efficiently and effectively patrolled by an officer on a bike,” he wrote.

    With Lt. Chris Hatch, the chief has been meeting with the owners and managers of various bars and nightclubs, setting out communication lines for times when things go wrong. The lieutenant has also met with parks and highway department officials, making sure that signs are up to date. Town police are deploying new speed-monitoring devices that will allow personnel to be assigned to places where violations, and traffic flow, are high. The department plans to add video cameras to its patrol cars; the bidding process is about to begin.

       A full complement of summertime traffic control officers will begin hitting the streets this weekend, Chief Sarlo said, supplemented by four part-time officers who will graduate from the police academy tomorrow and be ready for foot patrol in Montauk and Amagansett by the end of June after more training locally.

    The department is also entering the era of social networking. “We have launched our Facebook page and hope to start more information-sharing and live-time notifications to the public, hopefully followed soon by a Twitter account,” the chief said.

    In conjunction with town officials, along with David Browne, the chief fire marshal, and John Rooney, the town’s recreation director, police brass will be part of the new committee reviewing event permits. “The town is taking a more comprehensive review of event permits, and ensuring that all agencies impacted by special events are consulted, while weighing the costs and impacts to the town and community of large gatherings,” Chief Sarlo said.

    The cost of police services will be an important issue for planners of mass gatherings. “The FEMA pay scale, which factors in not just overtime rates but benefit costs, as well as impact to the town for vehicles and other items, will now be used in calculating the costs for services,” the chief explained. It will mean more money for the department.

    “We are prepped for summer and moving forward. I haven’t been busy at all,” the chief concluded.