Staten Island’s Drug Problem Hits CSI
by Bradley Popkin
Staten Island might appear to be a quiet, mostly crime-free borough but it does have a history involving narcotics. The entire borough, and the College of Staten Island, have been embroiled in a battle with prescription pills, ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.
The CSI’s main campus grounds are patrolled on a 24-hour basis by Public Safety Officers. Public Safety Officers are sworn law enforcement/NYS Peace Officers and have the power to make arrests.
Incidents of a criminal nature that are reported to a Campus Peace Officer are referred via the complainant to the New York City Police Department. The City University of New York and the CSI have Memorandums of Understanding with the NYPD for emergency, non-emergency and investigative response.
In 1992, the NYPD and CUNY came to an agreement that said police could not come onto the grounds of campuses citywide unless called or in an emergency.
“Most cops don’t know that,” claimed an anonymous 121st precinct source. “I never knew that I couldn’t come on campus. I knew we shouldn’t because they’ve their own security and it might look bad on them.”
The source was kept confidential due to department policy.
On October 27 of last year, the source and his boss were driving an unmarked vehicle, around midnight, near the college when they saw a car with jersey plates try and go in through the exit of the front entrance.
“I was like that guy was probably drunk or there’s something up with that,” said the NYPD source.
Subsequently, the pair followed the car onto campus where the driver led them to the dorms. Without lights or sirens on, the cops approached the vehicle.
“I’m talking to him, he’s very nervous; his girlfriend has her pants unzipped,” said the officer. “Typically, that’s an indicator, when they’re driving, that she put something in there.”
“They don’t think that we will search them because there’s a female.”
Upon the suspects stepping out of the vehicle, a search of the vehicle’s contents begins.
“I find in his center console eight, large bags of cocaine so I leave them in there,” said the NYPD source.
A later search found hundreds of little, ziploc bags that drugs are kept in and latex gloves and $480 on the suspect. The cocaine seized would amount to between $400-500. “I understand why the President got upset because it was in The Staten Island Advance the next day,” said the source. “It looks horrible.”
A trip back to the campus following the arrest turned up interesting results. After arriving in uniform, the source spoke with supervisors of the peace officers regarding their power of arrest.
“They were told by the higher ups that they were not to do any enforcement activity,” claimed the officer.
“It’s a shame, they’re doing a disservice to everybody,” exclaimed the source. “Especially with the rampant drug problem that’s going on right now and all the kids that I see on a daily basis selling drugs, taking drugs and doing drugs in parking lots, in their cars. They think they’re untouchable.”
Typically, all passengers in a vehicle containing narcotics would get arrested. Having claimed possession of the cocaine, the driver was the only person that left the scene in handcuffs. The female passenger, then 18 and student of CSI, had never been arrested.
The suspect, Julio Matias 18, plead guilty in January but has not been sentenced yet and has no priors. The charges, which include intent to sell, carry a class B felony which is the second highest.
“With a felony, you’re supposed to serve a minimum of a year but typically they’ll take a plea agreement where he might do like ten days or up to six months,” said the officer. “I’d be shocked if he served any time because he made bail and he’s never been to jail since.”
The felony will remain on his record forever. Matias last made an appearance in Richmond Supreme Court on March 14. No sentence has been given yet.