Suffolk Police are continuing to investigate two incidents last week in which Robert Frost Middle School students reported being followed by vehicles near their bus stop.
"It has yet to be determined if the vehicles were actually following the children or just driving slowly as we have not spoken to the people in the cars," a police spokesperson said in an email. "While there’s nothing criminal about these two incidents, the First Precinct has increased both marked and unmarked patrols and are in communication with the school district."
Last Thursday, a Robert Frost student reported being approached by a small maroon/red car with one person inside on Washington Avenue near Hickory Street. On Friday, police said a 911 call came in around 3 p.m. and a woman said her daughter was followed by two people in a dark vehicle as she walked from the bus stop at Headline Road and Sunburst Drive.
There was no attempt at communication with either female student, police said.
Deer Park Superintendent Eva Demyen said the district is taking a proactive approach in dealing with the incidents. Through a district spokesperson, Demyen said police officers are conducting "police smart workshops" in the schools. There are also end of the day precautionary announcements being made over the loudspeaker in all schools, she said.
Some Deer Park parents say they are now driving their children to school or to the bus stop as a precaution, according to feedback on our Facebook page.
"I am bringing and picking up the kids at the bus stop," Erin Doherty-Helmers said. "I'm there for my kids but also to keep a look out for the other kids at the bus stop."
Sex Offender Concerns
In light of the incidents, parents have also expressed concerns over sex offenders residing at the Deer Park Motor Inn on Commack Road, but officials refuted claims that the county is housing sex offenders at the motel.
"With regard to concerns that these incidents may be connected to any registered sex offenders–the Town has determined that there are no registered sex offenders residing at the Deer Park Motor Inn," the Town of Babylon said in a statement. "A registered sex offender recently moved from this location to a location outside of the Town of Babylon. As a Level 2 offender he is required to call in his location every night to the Suffolk County Police. His location has been consistently confirmed as outside the Town of Babylon since he left the Deer Park Motor Inn."
The student who reported being followed on Thursday did not a provide description of the driver because the windows were tinted. In the incident Friday, the student said the two men inside the vehicle were about 30-35 years old.
Police have not located those two men, but the sex offender who was recently residing at the Deer Park Motor Inn does not own a car and is 62 years old.
Town officials also said they have confirmed that the Deer Park Motor Inn will no longer be accepting any registered sex offenders.
The state currently bans Level 3 sex offenders–those considered the most dangerous who are on probation or parole–from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other areas where children congregate.
Town of Babylon officials discussed last year banning Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from living within a quarter mile from "places where children could naturally congregate," but that legislation stalled as courts throughout the state have struck down local laws that are more restrictive on sex offender residency than the state's own sex offender law.