The fight against drugs and the lives they destroy takes the dedication of numerous individuals, many of whom never get their day in the sun for their roles in helping the community.
However, the 2012 Criminal Justice Awards Luncheon, recently held by Confide Counseling and Consultation Center at the Anderson Recreational Center, served to highlight the efforts of several outstanding individuals and their work in keeping people off of drugs.
Art Rosenthal is the Executive Director of Confide Counseling and Consultation Center, a Rockville Centre-based agency that works in the area of substance abuse treatment. Rosenthal explained that Friday's awards ceremony, now in it's 11th year, singles out members of law enforcement who go above and beyond to help in that lofty cause.
“Confide and the drug treatment community joins together with law enforcement because one of the most common concerns that we all have is drug and alcohol abuse,” he said. “Every year, we come together to acknowledge certain individuals who, throughout the course of the year, have put forth a very strong effort, and we honor them today.”
Rosenthal stated that, in the war against drugs, treating the symptoms of the problem -- the substance abusers -- goes a long way toward treating the causes of that abuse.
“The bottom line is, we want to make sure that those who are struggling with addiction get the services that are necessary,” he said. “And that they are incarcerated only when it is absolutely necessary -- that is very important.”
Friday’s ceremony took the form of a buffet lunch, followed by a presentation with guest speakers, including Rockville Centre Mayor Frances Murray.
“This event is very important to me and all of our residents,” Murray said. “We are acknowledging those who deal with the war on narcotics throughout Nassau County and how this abuse affects our families and friends all over our country. It is a battle we must fight.”
The conclusion of the opening speeches was followed by the presentation of plaques to the day's honorees, which included the following individuals:
- Rockville Centre Police Department Lieutenant James Vafeades
- Nassau County Police Department Detective Gary T. Ferrucci
- New York City Police Chief James Secreto
- FBI Supervisory Special Agent Timothy J. Rembijas
- FBI Special Agent Carmine Esposito
- Honorable Judge Francis D. Ricigliano
- Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA) Training coordinator Anita V. Jackson
- Herb Ruben (Veterans Award)
Speaking at the ceremony was another partner in Confide's efforts to stem the effects of drugs in the community: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. The district attorney echoed Rosenthal sentiments regarding helping drug abusers over incarcerating them.
“I think this is not just being tough on crime, it’s being smart on crime,” she said. “So many of the people in our prisons are there because they suffer from some kind of addiction and I’m just so glad that we’re starting to realize that treatment is so much better than putting people in jail where they’re not getting the help that they need.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, has thrown his support behind Confide for quite some time and he attended the awards ceremony to cement that support.
“Confide is a great organization ... they help so many people in need,“ he said. “I’ve been backing them for years because are an important institution in Rockville Centre and one we need very much.”