With just over a week in office, Steven E. Skrynecki outlined three things he will be focused on as the new Southampton Town police chief at a town board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
The chief said that while his start with the department, as a consultant for the last three months before taking the helm, may have been a bit unusual, it has proven beneficial. “When I took the oath just last week I was able to hit the ground running and implement some changes right away,” he said.
Chief Skrynecki is setting a tone, homing in on preparedness and prevention. He said the Police Department is in the midst of adopting the model of intelligence-led policing used around the country. Through analytics and data mining, crime patterns can be identified and where crimes might occur can be better predicted. It is a type of policing he found effective in Nassau County, where he was the second in command until January.
Second, the chief wants to enhance what he said were already good community relations. “Community policing is the most successful style and type of policing,” he said. “Nobody knows the community better than the people who live in the immediate community.”
He is setting up meetings with school superintendents to discuss how best to prepare for active-shooter situations and response plans. He also plans to discuss how the police and schools can work together to combat gangs and gang violence, and addiction to opioids and other drugs.
Last, the chief is ramping up security at special events with a counterterrorism component. There are more than 100 such events planned over the coming year, he said. “We’re very cognizant of what’s going on around the world. We’re very grateful we have never had an episode in the Town of Southampton,” he said, adding that no threats to the region have been identified, but the Police Department has to be prepared for a “lone wolf” encouraged by ISIS or other terrorist groups.
A counterterrorism component was already seen locally during the Bridgehampton Half-Marathon late last month. “Some officers were more militarized,” he said — prepared to manage a shooting or a truck being driven into a crowd. “There are things we’ve seen around the world, and we’re not exempt from that possibility,” he told the board.
“The really good news, fundamentally, I believe this Police Department is really sound,” he said. He also thanked Capt. Lawrence Schurek, who led the department since Chief Robert Pearce’s retirement at the end of September.