BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There has been a public outcry in one community about the safety at a Long Island Rail Road station.
Riders say the station is attracting dangerous vagrants, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
At the Babylon LIRR stop, not everyone rushes to trains. Parked here day and night are the homeless, transient people and loiterers. They leave riders feeling uneasy.
“There are a lot of people that just have no place to go, really, always asking for money,” one rider said.
“Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes it’s scary at night because you don’t know who is safe and who is dangerous,” Donna Barnett said.
Barnett said she often gives out food, but sometimes, “I do get scared. I always put my money away.”
There has been aggressive panhandling directed at students outside the high school across the street, and last month there was knife-point robbery of a woman walking home.
Residents are urging lawmakers to do more. Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino responded.
“My letter to the president of the Long Island Rail Road requested a permanent patrol of the MTA police here at Babylon station,” Pellegrino said.
The mayor calls it a perfect storm. T Babylon station is the end of the branch, so people with no place else to go often find safe haven in its warm waiting room and quaint village just steps away.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority police patrols have been stepped up. According to a spokesman, there has been “… a concerted enforcement effort in coordination with the LIRR, Village of Babylon and Suffolk County police.”
As a result, there have been 11 arrests and 134 summonses issued since January. However, Greta Guarton, the head of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, cautions against viewing homeless people as criminals — unless laws are broken.
“Just to prevent people from being there in a public place, that’s not a reason to have a greater police presence,” Guarton said.
One man admitted he is temporarily homeless.
“Where are you supposed to tell them to go? It’s a rough issue out here. There is no housing,” the man said.
An MTA spokesman said it will continue to enhance policing, but there has been no word yet on full-time patrols.
There are believed to be 3,800 people living in shelters or on the streets of Long Island.