Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty and Nyack schools Superintendent Valencia Douglas have met to discuss Wednesday’s gang-related incident at the high school that percipitated the mini-riot and gang fight in downtown Nyack.
Nulty and Orangetown Detective Lt. James Brown described the meeting at Orangetown Police Headquarters as productive. They said Douglas was opened to discussing the issues and what the school district could do on its end to assist. Nulty said the Rockland Intelligence Center gang unit detectives also took part in the discussions.
“This was productive and I think both sides are willing to work together and try and solve the problem,” Brown said. “The problems will not be solved by just the police. We need the support of the school and the community. ”
In the past, Nyack and other school districts have been reluctant, with the notable exception of North Rockland school district, to acknowledge problems or issues with street gangs. At the same time, school districts, including Nyack, have dress code policies banning gang wear, like bandannas, beads, and all one-color outfits.
As a follow up, Nyack officials met with community leaders, schools officials and police on Monday night to prepare an agenda for a public meeting in two weeks on expanding youth programs, recreation activities and increasing police presence – much of which is geared toward diluting the influence of gangs and improve the quality of life for residents.
A mini-riot erupted Wednesday along Franklin Street between gang members from Spring Valley and Nyack. The young men were armed with bats, an axe and knives. Two people were stabbed and five people arrested as police from several departments chased 40to 50 young people across Franklin Street and up some nearby streets.
The fights occurred when Spring Valley street gang members came to Nyack to seek retribution against a young man associated with a Nyack street gang who ripped a girl’s red bandanna from her neck at Nyack High School, police said. The girl called her boyfriend, a purported Blood street gang member who lived in Spring Valley. The red bandanna apparently represented a street gang, possibly the Bloods. The girl accosted was associated with members of the Spring Valley group, police said.
Police were still investigating and looking for the people who stabbed the two young people. Nulty said a gang fight of such magnitude like on Wednesday are not common in Nyack and was caused by the outside influences. Still, Nulty said the problem with gangs must be confronted by the police, the village, the community and the schools.
One issue is that three police departments cover Nyack schools. Clarkstown police are responsible for the high school and South Nyack-Grand View police cover the Middle School. Orangetown police cover Nyack streets. Nulty said the three police departments will work together and develop a plan. Nulty said his department doesn’t have jurisdiction over the high school so he encouraged Douglas to work with the Clarkstown police and its school resource officers.
“I think it’s clear we have an issue of gangs to some degree in downtown Nyack,” Nulty said. “They are young and more than likely some of them attend the high school.”