LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (WPIX)—If you've noticed less flashing lights on the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County you may not be alone. Since the Sheriff's Department took over patrols of the two roadways, the amount of tickets written has plummeted 63%.
"Suffolk County police and the highway patrol left a big gap to fill," said motorist Henry Streit.
Many drivers told PIX News they would like to see Suffolk police back out on patrol on Sunrise Highway and the Long Island Expressway.
"Absolutely," said motorist Ed Stannard. "It would make the roads safer."
But less tickets, doesn't necessarily mean more danger. The number of accidents actually dropped slightly since deputy sheriff's began their patrols.
"There's more than one way to have people abide by the law," said Chief Michael Sharkey of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office. "You can write someone a traffic summons, you can issue a verbal warning when you stop someone. Every person doesn't have to be issued a summons."
Suffolk PBA president Jeff Frayler says the massive drop in tickets is a major revenue loss. It's money, he says, that would have paid to keep police highway patrols right where they were.
County Executive Steve Levy, who pulled the higher paid police officers in favor of lower paid deputy sheriffs, stands by his decision and issued this statement, "We said that we could save over $8 million, freeze taxes and maintain the previous level of safety, which we have as evidenced by the fact that the accident rate has gone down."
If you think you have a free pass to speed in Suffolk County, not so fast. There's a new Sheriff in town, in the form of grant money and expectations are tickets will go way up.
"There's a significant amount of grant funding that has been available to Suffolk police and has been made available to us," said Sharkey. "We have started those patrols."
The state grant money will allow extra sheriff patrols to specifically target traffic violators.