Updated: May 1
By Jon Winkler
Town officials will hold a community meeting later this month on tenants rights and civil and criminal issues in the eviction process. The discussion will focus on reaching out to Latino residents, who often face challenges in the process due to language barriers.
The town’s Latino Advisory Committee will be joined by members of the East Hampton Town Police Department and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office at East Hampton Town Hall on November 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Minerva Perez, executive director of Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island, known as OLA, said that she and Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo have been talking about eviction issues for some time and that she looks forward to having a public discussion.
“The eviction process is very confusing and some don’t exactly know the process itself,” Ms. Perez said. “I want to make sure that what leads up to a legal eviction process is known. There is a due process of law and it’s important for people to know that. I just want to make sure the town has that information,” she said, noting that the information would be useful for all residents, not just Latinos.
Police Chief Michael Sarlo said an informational meeting on eviction is something the community needs, similar to meetings recently held with code enforcement officers to address the rental registry law.
“The Latino Advisory Committee has been hosting speakers at their meetings to get pertinent information to Spanish speaking members of our community,” Chief Sarlo said. “After reviewing several situations that have arisen over the past year or so, we thought it would be a good idea to try to convey some basic information regarding the legal process and have a question and answer session at an advisory committee meeting regarding lease agreements, rental issues, etc.” He said town officials are working with leaders in the Latino community to identify where improvements can be made in communication and cooperation with Spanish speaking residents.
“The dialogue has been very productive, as we have also been able to identify areas where we can do a better job training our officers,” he said.
Ms. Perez said she credits the Town Police department for its efforts so far, but sees an opportunity to improve communications between police and the community.
“There is the concern that you want to make sure that everyone can communicate with each other, and this is crucial for violent and abuse situations,” she said. “If you can’t communicate with someone in a deeper manner, it will be tough. What we can do to increase communications means less extra work needs to be done.”
“Community policing is not just a buzz word, it is an ongoing process of being proactive to address the safety and welfare of the citizens, and build relationships that serves the entire community,” Chief Sarlo said.
Tenants and landlords are welcome to participate in the meeting and are encouraged to offer actual examples of incidents they experienced and possible solutions.
“The whole purpose is to be there and add to the dialogue,” Ms. Perez said.