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Aug 1, 2017 3:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Southampton Town Police Chief Deploys Anti-Terror Units To Summer Events

Aug 1, 2017 4:14 PM

There’s a new police chief in town, and one noticeable bit of evidence: Southampton Town Police officers may be seen carrying assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests at events this summer.

Police Chief Steven Skrynecki, who officially took over in May after working as a consultant for the town for several months, said the move to arm Town Police officers with assault rifles is in response to the various terrorist attacks in the U.S. and around the world. The semi-automatic M4-type rifles were first used at the Bridgehampton Half Marathon back in April and have been spotted at various public and private events where Town Police are providing security this summer.

“Some of the [terrorist] groups are encouraging lone-wolf or inspired action toward the very type of events here in the Hamptons,” Chief Skrynecki said. He added that the police department recognizes that many residents of and visitors to the Hamptons are targets of terrorist groups who set their sights on symbols of freedom and social expression.

There has never been a terrorist attack on the East End, and Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph said the arming of police officers with assault rifles is not based on any direct threat—it’s just an effort to increase security.

During the interview process, Chief Skrynecki said, he suggested to the Town Board and supervisor that they should pay more attention to terrorism and how the East End could be a potential target.

He noted recent attacks on people in open places, such as the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, and the rogue truck that targeted innocent people during Bastille Day on July 14, 2016, in Nice, France, as well as similar, more recent attacks in London, England.

Because of the wide variety of events held throughout Southampton Town, Chief Skrynecki said each event will be analyzed for potential threats, and a plan of action will be taken to keep residents and visitors safe.

Chief Skrynecki also said he plans to work with the Suffolk County and Nassau County police departments and their intelligence centers to stay abreast of any chatter from social media websites or any other sources that people could be planning a disruption or expressing disdain for a particular group of people.

That includes using what Chief Skrynecki calls Counter Terrorist Units. CTUs include specially trained and equipped officers, as well as obstacles and barricades, to dissuade attackers and stop trucks from getting to where people are congregated.

Before each event, the chief said he and/or members of his police force will meet with event organizers to come up with the best platform of security that creates the least amount of disruption for the event.

“Clearly, they are deserving of the most security that we can provide to them so they can enjoy their event,” he said.

The weapons held by the officers are not simply for show and will be loaded, Chief Skrynecki said, because he does not want his team waiting for members of a SWAT team to arrive in the event of a crisis.

Chief Skrynecki said he wants to show the police department’s presence but does not want it to be overbearing on the patrons. In fact, officers carrying assault rifles are instructed not to walk around an event, but will be positioned at potential points of attack. He said undercover officers could be mixed into crowds to help keep an eye out for things out of the norm.

Officers who are trained on these weapons are required to receive quarterly training and annual weapon re-qualification, Chief Skrynecki said, providing them with more training sessions than before.

Although Southampton is just now getting these precautionary measures, Chief Skrynecki said he watched measures get ramped up very quickly in Nassau County when he worked for its police department. “This is just a little late coming here, but certainly necessary,” he said.

As far as the cost of the weapons, the chief did not have specific numbers, but noted the weapons are brought to the department new, instead of through demilitarized military surplus.

Chief Skrynecki stressed that there is no immediate threat to the East End but said it does not hurt to be prepared.

“There is no active intelligence to suggest attacks are being planned,” he said. “This in an abundance of caution. We live in a world where individuals are acting out, sometimes inspired by some of these terrorist groups. We want to be well-prepared to protect.”

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All I can say is WOW. Here comes NASSAU...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 1, 17 4:15 PM
Who could've possibly seen this coming from this guy? Unreal.
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Aug 1, 17 4:18 PM
By MelissaA (54), Sag Harbor on Aug 1, 17 5:01 PM
How safe and secure did you all feel on 9/10/2001? Why does everybody think it couldn't happen again ? I don't understand it. I get the fact that we all need to move on and not live in fear but what's wrong with being protected? You know, in the event.....
By Sturgis (611), Southampton on Aug 1, 17 5:29 PM
Totally agree, we should have heavily armed guards everywhere all the time, just in case.

Keeping watch for random events is exactly what this community needs. If there were cops standing around with automatic weapons in NYC in 2001 those planes never would have made it to the towers...
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Aug 1, 17 5:45 PM
Yes that's what's going to happen.......armed guards...all the time.
Because no other terrorist event occurred on American soil since 9/11.....
Thanks for reminding me......
By Sturgis (611), Southampton on Aug 1, 17 7:48 PM
Seems crazy but I get it. With so many events in the Hamptons that cost $50K a table , it seems to be a practical precaution rather than assuming it could never happen here.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Aug 1, 17 6:36 PM
Isn't his vacation coming up soon?
By fire11 (276), east hampton on Aug 1, 17 8:43 PM
Isn't his vacation coming up soon?
By fire11 (276), east hampton on Aug 1, 17 8:43 PM
Who is paying for this. And if these events have the potential to attract terrorism, why is the town allowing them in residential neighborhoods. Maybe we would be safer and save money if we just banned celebrity fundraisers.
By rv (38), watermill on Aug 1, 17 8:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Some of these events support the local community. And these events an charities raise alot of money for the research toward many important organizations . I feel safer knowing that theses "celebrity fundraisers " are making large donations that fund foundations such as cancer research or land preservation. Seems like a small price to pay for some extra protection for those who so generously give back.

By toes in the water (884), southampton on Aug 2, 17 9:06 PM
Just what we need...the militarization of a community police force. All in the name of terrorism. Never give up freedom for he sake of security.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 1, 17 9:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
"Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. "

~ Albert Camus

Mainly, because it's not actually respect. At all.
Aug 1, 17 9:46 PM appended by Mr. Z
For good measure: "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it." ~ Aung San Suu Kyi
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 1, 17 9:46 PM
Terroristic threats are overt and apparent - they will happen in anything less than a complete police state like North Korea. Loss of liberty and privacy through police power is more insidious as that comes slowly under the guise of security. There is no totalitarian state on earth that does not use the security argument to restrict freedom of its citizens - most recently Venezuela. Little by little these security measures can chip away at the quality of life, if they are not kept in check. ...more
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Aug 2, 17 3:59 PM
It can't hurt, It doesn't seem so far fetched anymore that terrorists can strike anywhere. The people that come out here for the Summer are their prime targets They just see us as an extension of NYC unfortunately. If the intelligence is pout there, the police would be foolish to not take precautions IMHO
By scalloper (17), quogue on Aug 1, 17 10:38 PM
A 2017 study showed that police forces which received military equipment were more likely to have violent encounters with the public, regardless of local crime rates.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 2, 17 10:22 AM
Yes, everyone should search out that "scientific" study, made up of tiny samples, lots of assumptions, and reliance on internet sites that collect information from the public, without any verification:

"In other words, does the violence cause the militarization rather than the other way around?

No. Here’s how we know this. We reasoned that if officers become more prone to use violence, we should also see more pets killed by police. Using the Puppycide Database Project, which ...more
By NateNewtown (99), east on Aug 2, 17 3:32 PM
Did you research the study, or any study on it, or are you just making vague assertions?

What violence are you referring to that led to the Chief's decision to escalate tensions?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 2, 17 6:39 PM
Local militarization of the police? I Didn't see this coming.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 2, 17 7:02 AM
Why don't these fundraisers hire private security? Why do my tax dollars pay for S.H. Police working overtime?
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Aug 2, 17 7:16 AM
3 members liked this comment
As the saying goes it's better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it.
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Aug 2, 17 11:13 AM
More traffic control and less anti terror patrols needed.
By harbor hound (31), southampton on Aug 2, 17 12:42 PM
3 members liked this comment
Town board meetings? Where do we not have celebrities around???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 2, 17 12:54 PM
Let's militarize the police force so they can protect celebrities, real estate magnates, politicians, musicians, sports figures and NY Social Diary denizens at private parties. Maybe we can send police armed with assault rifles to guard the high priced children's day camps too, because "terror protection."
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 2, 17 6:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
I wish I could live in a bubble with the rest of you guys. Anyone ever hear or Columbine, or Aurora, or Newtown, or Sandy Hook before a tragic incident occurred? Bad things can happen out here and having prepared police officers who are ready to take action is better than not having them. This whole "militarization of police" is called being prepared and It's not meant to scare people. I applaud the new chief for adding necessary equipment and training.
By pk (2), Southampton on Aug 2, 17 8:39 PM
Did militarily outfitted police ever help in any situation like the ones you mentioned? Ever? No.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 4, 17 10:32 PM
2 members liked this comment
It's all about making the 1%ers feel safe. It's not going to help our children's schools out here or any other target you might think of after the season is over.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Aug 3, 17 7:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Great Job with having this New Counter terror unit. Only problem is where and how they will be deployed. I'm sure the heavy weights with all the money will Demand the Cops be at their event!!! Hopefully the Chief will deploy them at events after receiving creditable Intel from the experts....
By Tomjulie (43), Hampton Bays on Aug 3, 17 2:52 PM
Meanwhile, 60yo retirees in yellow nylon jackets provide security for the schools. Interesting priorities.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Aug 4, 17 10:05 AM
Now that's just not true! SUFD has a $175,000 salaried school resource officer provided by the village police prepared to take action to thwart any tragic incidences.
By deepchanel (89), Southampton on Aug 7, 17 10:52 AM
No picture of Jay-S. in a SWAT outfit?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Aug 4, 17 12:01 PM
2 semi automatic rifles scares no terrorists but does scare the regular citizen. I saw these bozos up close at the Greek festivalal chowing down on greek food and leaving the entrance with no security. Joke
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 4, 17 11:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
Give it 2 years before someone is blown away at a concert in the park while reaching for a cork screw
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 5, 17 10:08 AM
This is scary. And he cites lone wolf terrorism like the Boston Marathon. The problem with these lone wold attacks is that they are not predictable. Nearly impossible to stop. So what good do all those assault rifles do?
This is an ego thing with local police. Little boys with new, albeit dangerous, toys. That's what it is. Pure and simple. Scary. Scary. Scary.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Aug 6, 17 12:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
With all due respect, I'm quite confused by your statement. Yes lone wolf, and all terrorist attacks are "unpredictable". But what these people, the terrorists, want is numbers. Therefore I would feel a little better, in a crowd, if a lone wolf should decide to terrorize. I'm not scared of the police, I'm scared of the criminals.
By Sturgis (611), Southampton on Aug 7, 17 7:38 PM
Were they at the SH Hospital Gala. Lots of people that think they are important.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 6, 17 7:44 PM