By Christine Sampson
In Sag Harbor Village, calls for help from the police are up, arrests are up and traffic infractions are up, but don’t mistake these statistics as a sign that the village is unsafe or in decline.
That’s according to Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin J. McGuire, who provided a report to the Sag Harbor Village Board this week that showed the total number of arrests in the village jumped more than 56 percent in 2017 over the previous year. DWI arrests are up more than 43 percent, traffic tickets are up about 29 percent and overall calls to the police are up 17 percent from December 2016 to December 2017.
“We’re doing well,” Chief McGuire said Wednesday, “and hopefully it stays the same and we can keep the criminal element out.”
In 2016, Sag Harbor officers recorded 197 arrests, but last year that number jumped to 308. There were 5,348 calls for help in 2017, up from 4,567 in 2016. DWI arrests rose from 30 to 43, a figure that is also almost double the total from 2015. Officers gave out 1,828 traffic tickets in 2017, up from 1,415 in 2016. The number of parking tickets issued in 2017, though, declined by about 11 percent, to 3,323.
However, Chief McGuire characterized Sag Harbor as a safe place overall. The types of incidents reported range from criminal mischief and fire alarms to burglaries and trespassing.
“We don’t take that for granted, though,” he said. “We don’t take that as a given. Crime moves — it’s not in one place. You should still lock your house and your cars. We should eliminate crimes of opportunity. We have a police presence, and I think the officer presence deters crime.”
Noticeably absent from Sag Harbor’s stats are the kinds of misdemeanor and felony drug charges often seen in other areas of Long Island.
“It’s few and far between, yet it is on our fringes constantly,” Chief McGuire said. “It’s happening all around us. We’ve just been lucky — knock on wood — but it’s all around us.”
And if that kind of problem does increase in Sag Harbor, Chief McGuire said his department is ready.
“We train for everything, for any possibility,” he said. “If you think you’re immune to something just because you’re in a small village — you’re not. We just go out and do our jobs and hope that you can deter it.”
Chief McGuire also announced the department’s two top cops for 2017 are Police Officer Michael Labrozzi, who is being named Police Officer of the Year, and Sgt. Thomas Pagano, who is being named Top Cop for DWI Arrests.
Officer Labrozzi was responsible for about a quarter of the arrests made in all of 2017, and prevented an opioid overdose by administering the antidote Narcan in June.
“He is tremendous,” Chief McGuire said. “He’s very active, personable and cares about this community. He likes what he does, and he’s very good at what he does. I think he has a very bright future here.”
Sgt. Pagano made 16 of the department’s 43 DWI arrests, and has received the Top Cop for DWI Arrests honor before.
“He’s very good at it,” Chief McGuire said.
One factor that may explain the dramatic rise in statistics is the common thought that the village is getting busier and busier in the summer each year.
“More and more people come,” Chief McGuire said. “It seems like we have a couple of restaurants that were vacant and now they’re back in swing. Year- round this is probably the busiest village out here for nightlife. That’s just my observation. I think this is a very popular village.”
Sag Harbor Mayor Sandra Schroeder said the parking ticket statistic surprised her, and concurred with the police chief’s statement about a bustling village.
“It just shows that our police force is doing a wonderful job,” she said of the rising arrests, DWIs and calls for help. “It is increasing as our population is increasing. It’s not that people are getting worse, it just shows you how much busier our department is.”