CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A once-trusted public safety officer is on the wrong side of the law.
He’s accused of preying on women in the Long Island village he was charged with protecting, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
Dennis Fajardo drove a marked car and wore the village uniform — and used both to lure women, Suffolk County police say. They announced the arrest of the 28-year-old married Patchogue Village public safety officer after sexual misconduct and forcible touching complaints were made against him.
“We obviously want people to trust in their law enforcement officers,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.
Police said Fajardo betrayed that trust while on duty, twice approaching women as they were walking alone after leaving downtown Patchogue establishments at 4 a.m., under the guise of keeping them safe.
“In one instance, he offered to drive them to their vehicle, to help find their vehicle and in the next instance offered to drive her home,” Hart said.
Once inside the code enforcement car, he allegedly drove each woman to a vacant lot and engaged in unlawful sexual contact.
Sporting his badge on social media, Fajardo is now stripped of his duties and suspended without pay. In court he entered a not guilty plea and left without comment. His lawyer noted one victim’s description as not matching his client.
In a village where Fajardo worked the overnight shift on busy weekends, shoppers were stunned.
“He is here to protect and serve us and these women were relying on him. It’s horrible,” one person said.
Public safety officers are not armed and do not go through the rigorous training of police officers, but are used part time to back up police.
“I’m the mayor of a small village. When these kinds of things happen, it’s becomes very, very personal. It hurts. It’s bothersome. But it’s something we have to correct,” Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said.
Meanwhile, Suffolk police are asking anyone with similar experience to contact them, which suggests there could be additional victims. Fajardo had been on the job for almost a year.