by Rick Pezzullo –
When Sleepy Hollow Police Chief Anthony Bueti was promoted to lead the village force in May 2016, one of his primary goals was to foster a tighter bond with residents through community policing initiatives.
Nearly four years later, Bueti remains focused on improving relations with the citizens his department serves and feels great strides have been made.
“The residents of the village should not fear the police,” Bueti stressed during an interview in his office. “The only ones who should fear the police are the criminals.”
Bueti explained that the Sleepy Hollow Police Department does not enforce immigration laws, and the few raids that have taken place in the village were conducted by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. He noted that since the uniforms of ICE officers are similar to village police it sometimes creates confusion with residents.
In January, three new officers were hired, including the first officer of Ecuadorian descent, Luis Llivisaca, in the department’s history. In addition, four promotions were made within the ranks.
With an estimated increase of about 3,000 new residents expected in the village once the 1,177 units of housing and 135,000 square feet of retail space at Edge- on-Hudson is occupied on the former General Motors property, Bueti said there will be a need for the department to gradually grow.
“We’re always working closely to balance manpower and the budget,” he said.
Bueti began his law enforcement career in 1998 in New York City in the 34th Precinct in Washington Heights, a community he said closely resembled Sleepy Hollow in its demographics. In June 2002, Bueti had the opportunity to return to Sleepy Hollow, where he grew up, as a K-9 officer, and where he spent five years with his late canine partner, Brom Bones. He then moved up the ranks in the department.
The department hasn’t had a canine since 2015, but it has applied for a private foundation grant with hopes of bringing a four-legged friend on board by the end of the year. Bueti explained K-9’s are invaluable in helping officers search for missing persons and sniffing out drugs, while also being “great” with community policing initiatives.
Increased bike patrols are another way Sleepy Hollow officers have been connecting with residents along with other efforts, such as a toy drive during the holidays where more than 300 toys were donated to needy children in the village, and Sports Day with the Police Benevolent Association (P.B.A.). Sports Day will be a free event taking place on Thursday, February 20 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Sleepy Hollow Middle School gymnasium.
Bueti said having a school resource officer walking the halls of the high school/middle school campus has also proven to be effective in getting students to be more comfortable around police and getting educated on various threats.
Recently, the school resource officer was instrumental in identifying a high school student who was allegedly involved with making a shooting threat on a classroom whiteboard on January 10 that forced a lockdown in the schools.
“It’s been extremely valuable having direct access to the kids,” Bueti said.