By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
March 23, 2022: In the past few weeks, you have received several alerts from the police department of importance as they related to residents of our Village. The police chief and the board recognize that they were of great concern, so I write this with substantive input from our Chief of Police to explain these most exigent alerts and phone messages and the necessary legal and personal protocols that often have to drive their wording.
As you can discern, each event relating to personal safety had its own unique set of facts. Before the Police Chief can disseminate any information, he has to filter his words through many legal lenses.
As example, he must follow the HIPAA laws which require the privacy of personal medical records; he must respect the individual privacy of those involved, most especially juveniles who must be handled with utmost sensitivity, all while sharing only that information that preserves the integrity of any possible ongoing criminal investigation.
The Chief’s emails are immediate notifications generated from the scene and are purposely limited to the facts at hand that can be legally divulged. Their primary purpose is to seek resident help in real time to perhaps identify a person or locate a subject and thanks to the civic involvement of residents, these alerts have proven very successful in solving situations.
Just last week, as a result of a very brief but real time alert, a resident identified young people whose parents were concerned about their whereabouts, and they were located safely.
To set up a scenario, the Chief is often sending these alerts from his cell phone as he is supervising the event at hand and logistically moving all available officers. He is not a Chief in the typical large department sense as he literally has his sleeves rolled up and becomes the Incident Commander from the actual place of the event.
As illustration in the most recent event, the Chief was in communication with the Metro North Police Department, the New York City Police Department and the Port Authority Police Department while sending officers to many locations in Manhattan.
Though the Trustees are by New York State law so designated as Police Commissioners tasked to oversee the department, its goals, force numbers etc., there is an ethical wall as to information relating to privacy and criminal activity, so when you reach out to the Trustees or me, we often don’t have any more information than our fellow citizens at the moment of the incident.
The police department asks you to place your trust in them and do not interpret short alerts or read into them a different fact set. The alerts are as detailed as can be and should be read literally. As example, in a recent one it did not say “abducted” juveniles it said “missing” juveniles.
If there is any danger to you, communitywide or a neighborhood specific danger such as perhaps could have been the case in the NYP-Lawrence Hospital false active shooter case, you will be alerted immediately. Net net if it affects you, you will know in real time.
As the number of characters are limited in a text, we ask you to sign up for the E-Alerts emails as well as text messages in which the Chief can expand on information not doable in a text. Due to the safeguards in the system and required verification, we cannot sign up for you, but it is an easy process.
We live in one of the nation’s safest communities in no small part thanks to you as concerned citizens and your immediate response to these alerts. As I mentioned previously, the missing juveniles were located as a direct result of a citizen response and identification. In another situation, a young person was bitten by a dog near Starbucks and thanks to one of you, the dog was identified, and the youngster did not have to go through a series of rabies shots. We are safe. We have not had a home invasion in over a decade and frankly much of our recent crime relates to unlocked cars with key fobs left inside.
I also encourage you to go on the police department website, which gives a review of all police activity for the month prior as well as reading our police department’s recent annual report which has been lauded for its transparency and thoroughness. If you have any questions or hear information that is disturbing, please do not hesitate to call the police desk to get your questions answered.
It does take a Village.
Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.
While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.
Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.
The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.
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