WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Following several incidents involving residents of Residential Treatment Centers in Westchester, members of the Coalition for a Safe Mount Pleasant are calling on local and state officials to increase security measures.
Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi was joined last month by Police Chief Paul Oliva and Sgt. Marty Greenberg in meetings with New York State Sen. Terrence Murphy regarding the facilities, which have caused some troubles in the community.
Murphy and Fulgenzi have reportedly proposed building a fence around the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls and JCCA Pleasantville Cottage School RTC after the most recent incidents.
Now, the Coalition for a Safe Mount Pleasant, a grassroots organization of local residents that seeks to “equip and empower our community by promoting public safety, sharing knowledge, and paving the way for advocacy that provides and sustains a safe environment and quality-of-life in the Mount Pleasant community for residents of all ages,” is calling on additional security measures at the facilities, but is having trouble gaining traction with officials.
According to Coalition co-founder Mark Saracino, his organization has reached out to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office and acting New York Stat Office of Children and Family Services Sheila Poole six times in the past two weeks and have been "utterly ignored."
Saracino said that Poole "has promised us full transparency, availability, and personal accountability, and she has not made well on those promises. She refuses to engage us while we work passionately, on our own time, to help her organization reach its goals."
The group has requested that the facilities stop accepting new students, increase security and review the current security practices that are in place.
In a letter to the Office of Children and Poole, the Coalition requested that new protocols be put in place for potentially dangerous residents that go missing.
“We've been seeking your help on AWOL incidents for a year now. This analysis is long overdue. While some may feel comfortable with your current plans, the majority of our community is not. We hope you will realize the importance of implementing an emergency, urgent policy to keep emotionally disturbed youths and teens under better supervision.”
On Tuesday, May 16, an 18-year-old resident of the JCCA Pleasantville Cottage School was charged with forcibly touching after a second student on campus registered a complaint.
The following day, two 17-year-old residents - one at the JCCA Edenwald Center, the other at the Cottage School - were charged with third-degree assault after striking staff members in the face. All three of the teens are due back in Mount Pleasant Town Court later this year.
The incidents came on the heels of two other situations that saw another teenager sent to jail after being involved in a pair of violent incidents with other Cottage School residents and a mugging of a 68-year-old woman at the Valhalla Metro-North Train Station by runaways from Cedar Knolls.