Realizing that the Terrace Avenue area was in a serious decline due to an increasing number of complaints of drug sale activity, Chief of Police James Russo contacted the New York State Attorney General's Office for assistance in alleviating this problem.
Terrace Avenue is a block-long area consisting of several high-rise housing projects. There are approximately 900 apartments in this one-block stretch of Hempstead which borders commercial property on one side and single family, higher income residences on the other. It is estimated that there are over 5,000 people living in this densely populated area. Small violations such as loitering, illegal parking and drinking alcohol in public quickly opened the door to other more serious crimes such as assaults, robberies and drug sales. Several of the building's owners had allowed their buildings to fall into a state of decay. Lack of physical security, such as inoperable front doors and broken locks, allowed trespassers, including drug dealers and their customers, to roam freely through the buildings.
In an effort to break the cycle of arrests, the New York State Attorney General instituted a lawsuit against the owners of these buildings, forcing them to make improvements and evict drug-dealing residents or face seizure and condemnation of their properties. While the Hempstead Police Department Investigations Unit conducted numerous undercover anti-drug operations to arrest the dealers, uniformed police officers on foot patrol were assigned to ensure the dealers being arrested were not replaced by others. Shortly thereafter, the Attorney General, successful in his suit, had the court order the landlords to improve the conditions of the buildings and hire uniformed security officers to patrol the properties.
Today the foot patrols continue on Terrace Avenue, fostering good relations between the law-- abiding citizens and members of the Police Department. Additionally, programs have been instituted wherein members of the Police Department attend the residents' monthly tenant association meetings and solve any law enforcement problems that might arise.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (516) 489-3400
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.