Concerns about homeless man addressed by SCPD

Third Precinct holds Q&A at East Islip Chamber meeting


Officers from Suffolk County Police Department’s Third Precinct attended the East Islip Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday, March 26, answering questions and concerns posed by East Islip residents.

Chamber director Jeff Greenside, the chamber’s liaison with the police department, arranged for Capt. Michael Teplansky and officer John Wright to hold the informative Q&A session with the community during the chamber meeting, held at the American Legion Hall at 3 Bayview Avenue in East Islip.

The SCPD Q&A portion of the meeting began with a moment of silence for Jonathon Diller, a Massapequa Park native and NYPD officer who was shot and killed the night before.

Suffolk County Legis. Trish Bergin, who represents East Islip within Legislative District 10, voiced concerns brought to her by numerous residents.

“We have an issue with an individual who is constantly at the CVS. He is a homeless individual. He spits on people, he curses at people, he throws hot coffee at people,” she said.

The CVS in question is located at 15 W Main Street in East Islip, in a small shopping center alongside Dunkin’ Donuts and Costello’s Ace Hardware.

Wright shared that while they are aware of the issue, providing the man with assistance proves to be more difficult than meets the eye, as the man has refused their help. 

“He refuses any kind of help. Al and myself go out with someone from the department of social services; at least once a month we are out there. We offer all the services they have; we never know when it might take and they might want to go, so we offer it all the time,” shared Wright. “We bring them a little care package with socks, shoes, toothpaste, everything they need to keep clean, and a paper that says call here and we will place you. And nine times out of 10, they will say, ‘I still have the other paper.’ If they do not want help from us, we cannot force them to take it.”

Additionally, the Third Precinct officers made the important distinction that they are only able to arrest someone if charges are pressed against them. Sitting outside of a CVS or other business asking for money in a mannerly way is not a crime, and therefore not an arrestable offense. Yet, actually spitting on someone is harassment, and throwing things at a person could be an assault or an attempted assault—actions that can be dealt with as a criminal, arrestable offense. 

“Certainly, if there is some type of criminal act that is committed, that allows us to remove him from the situation. And sometimes, when they are in our custody, we can force them to take services in some respects. But that requires your cooperation as well, because when we ask you to press charges on something, you have to be willing to do that,” said Teplansky. “Sometimes we run into a situation where people do not have the time or the patience to deal with the issue, but if you really want us to address the issue, you have to partner with us.”

Bergin supported Teplanksy’s statements.

“I actually spoke to the mother of the girl [who had coffee thrown on her], and asked if she was willing to do a police report, and the answer was no. So then, of course, our police officers’ hands are tied,” explained Bergin. “You have to be willing to fill out a police report and go forward with charges, or their hands are tied.”

Wright also explained that if the homeless individual is still in the same spot outside of the CVS every day, it is more than likely that someone is walking out and handing him something every day. Wright advised that if residents continue to do so, “we are never going to be able to solve the situation.”

The last suggestion from Teplansky was directed toward business owners, rather than East Islip residents. Teplanksy explained that the owner of the lot itself, the landlord, could sign a trespass affidavit that would preclude the homeless man from being in the parking lot, or in front of the stores in the shopping center. If the business were to issue the trespass affidavit against the individual in question, and if the individual then returns, the police would then have the ability to arrest him for trespassing.

In the meantime, the Suffolk County Police Department will continue handling the situation with care.

“I review a lot of body camera [footage], and it really shows how respectful the police force is that you pay for in our community,” shared Teplansky. “When they go and they deal with an individual like this, they talk to them with respect, because they are trying to resolve the situation. Like my mom always said, you catch more bees with honey.”