It takes a village to raise a child, and a change on how the village handles rowdy, drunk teens is needed now.
That was the message delivered by the hundreds of residents who attended Monday night's Village Board meeting to speak on the June 18 . Nearly 150 residents packed Village Hall with an additional 50-60 who stood outside because of fire code regulations on over occupancy.
RVC resident Katie Schumacher, who organized the gathering of residents via email, read a prepared statement to the board that the attack was not an isolated incident, that a change is needed now and it starts with the parents.
"We need a renewed focus on parental control and create stricter guidelines for the youth of Rockville Centre," she said.
Schumacher referenced other incidents that have occurred around RVC, from the on Nottingham Road to other unreported cases where cars were pelted with beer cans, houses defaced by teens and empty beer cans strewn across residential property.
"We are here because a change is needed," she said.
Several residents like Roger O'Donnell said the community needs to band together to try and stop the growing trend of out-of-control drunk teens roaming the village. "All of us can play a part in it and we need to do more," he said. "The police department needs to step up when they need to. Everyone here would echo what Katie said."
He added that Mayor Fran Murray's assuaged some of his concerns that village wasn't concerned with getting justice for the victim.
"We all really do care," Murray said. "We're here with you. We're looking for solutions. We want to make a change."
The mayor added that he is meeting with local principals on how they could work with the village to develop a strategy to combat this growing problem.
Charles Gennario, commissioner of the Rockville Centre Police Department, dispelled several rumors that his force didn't respond quick enough to the assault, that suspects weren't arrested because they were related to officers or that they weren't doing their job because arrests weren't made quick enough.
He explained that the gang assault, as well as the Nottingham Road robbery, are still under investigation, and the RVC PD have the full support of the Nassau County Police and county detectives bureau. He detailed the information he needs to make an arrest — evidence of a crime, a victim and suspect — and that his department cannot rush to judgement.
"I am very confident more arrests will be made," he said. "The rumors are wrong. I will arrest anyone I have evidence for."
He noted that the rumor it took RVC PD 20 minutes to respond is untrue. Police responded to the call within 1.5 minutes, he said. Gennario said that though two people came to the aid of the assault victim, several neighbors saw the attack, but no one has come to him to detail what they saw.
That information could help with their investigation, he said.
Gennario added that parents are the "arbitrators of discipline" for their kids. "I don't have enough police officers to babysit your kids," he said. "We don't get paid to babysit...I can't put armed guards on every corner."
Out of 16,000 incidents last year, Gennario said 476 were youth related and arrests are up 14 percent this year. "It's tough hearing the bullets thrown our way, but [his officers] are out there doing a good job. I'm proud of them."