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Crime’s Impact on Business Focus of BCW Forum

BCW Forum
From left, Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth; White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong; Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Shawn Harris; Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen; BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz; Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino and Matthew Tormey, Chief Criminal Investigator for Westchester County District Attorney’s Office

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino told an audience of business professionals that the number one way that businesses can combat crime is to be more vigilant and improve their system of internal controls. Businesses in the U.S., he said, lose about $660 billion a year due to embezzlement, identity theft, corporate kickbacks and other forms of fraud and abuse. “Checks made payable to false parties, double billing, expense fraud, spoofing of corporate e-mails, forged corporate checks, counterfeit website, add up to billions in losses for business,’’ he said.

Scarpino was one of six top law enforcement officials who spoke at The Business Council of Westchester Foundation’s Law Enforcement-Business Community Partnership Forum held Tuesday at the BCW offices in Rye Brook.

In addition to Scarpino, other panelists included Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth; White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong; Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen; Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Shawn Harris and Matthew Tormey, Chief Criminal Investigator for Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

Law enforcement officials said that criminals were becoming more sophisticated, but video surveillance and other new technologies are allowing police to stay one step ahead.

White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong said the city requires businesses to have a working security camera if they are open after 8 pm. “The important thing for the business owners is that they have a camera so if they’re not there and someone breaks their window we can then find and arrest that person. This proves to the business community that we’re serious about what we’re doing about crime.”

Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen agreed about the value of video surveillance saying,

“The number one thing we look for in solving a crime is: Where are the security cameras?”
He said the city is developing a voluntary program where businesses are asked to register on the city’s website if they have security cameras, where the cameras are located and if they will allow the police to access the footage if a crime is committed in their area. “That cuts down the time it takes to locate a camera. That’s important because sometimes when we do find a camera the footage has already been overwritten.”

Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Shawn Harris said his police department is working with the local business community to improve security and lighting. “We want to work with the businesses through the Planning Department and the IDA to help with funding and grants to improve their security and their lighting. Lighting and cameras are deterrents to crime.”

Westchester County Commissioner George Longworth said the county police are spending more time dealing with the issue of terrorism. “Every recruit is basically being trained to be a preventer of terrorism. Police officers on patrol carry radiation detection devises. The bomb squad has been move to a level 3 bomb squad capable of handling chemical, biological, radiological and explosive devices,” he said.

John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and COO, of the Business Council of Westchester, said that the event was in keeping with The Foundation’s role to help bring people and ideas to the forefront that increase economic development in the county. “This forum brought the law enforcement leaders together with businesses to form partnerships to ensure that the county is a safe place for employers and their employees,’’ said Ravitz.

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