A crowd gathered outside the Babylon LIRR station Friday night to demand a constant MTA police presence at the tracks.
They complained of drug use, panhandling, lewd behavior and violence.
“We want police presence!” the rallyers chanted.
They were led by state Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, whose office has been fielding complaints about the station, which is across from Babylon Junior-Senior High School.
Among those who called his office was the mother of a 16-year-old Catholic school student. His aunt, who picks him up each afternoon in Patchogue, was at Friday’s rally. She said her nephew has been stopping in Babylon for his commute since he was a freshman.
“He has encountered so many things that no parent would want their child to see at that age,” said the aunt, Daria Greco of East Patchogue. “Drug overdoses. He’s been approached for money numerous times … Somebody here recently exposed themselves. It’s just endless. It’s just not safe.”
Like Assemblyman LiPetri and others in the crowd, Greco said a more visible police presence would help deter criminal activity at the station.
“Not just for the kids who are commuting, but the regular commuters,” she told the crowd.
Speaking through a megaphone, LiPetri made note that MTA brass recently announced plans to use its police to monitor LIRR workers’ overtime usage.
“That’s insulting,” LiPetri said. “The police should have been here at Babylon train station. Only when the union made its voices heard, did the MTA back down. And now the Long Island community will be heard.”
“Babylon will not be silent. Long Island will not be silent. We will be heard,” LiPetri shouted.
The MTA did not return requests for comment by GreaterBabylon about the rally.
One frequent user of the station, who didn’t participate in the rally, told GreaterBabylon that panhandling at the Babylon station makes her feel “uncomfortable.”
“There’s people asking for money and stuff like that,” said Marianne Henriquez of Bay Shore. “Sometimes there used to be cops out there, but not no more.”
Still, she said she feels the Babylon station “is better than Bay Shore.”
When asked why the Babylon LIRR station for beefed up security — as opposed to other stations around Long Island — LiPetri said it’s because it’s a hub for the South Shore.
“Babylon is the final stop and the first stop on the Babylon line, obviously, and because of that, it makes it a unique station compared to others,” he said. “This is where you have a higher volume of people,” including “children who are coming on and off this station.”
Top: Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (middle, holding megaphone) along with East Patchogue resident Daria Greco to his immediate left. They were joined by about about 30 people Friday to demand a constant MTA police presence at the Babylon LIRR station. (Credit: Michael White)