Community Service Program Launched in OB

Litterers, public urinators and other low-level offenders have long accepted accepting community service in lieu of other penalties from our Ocean Beach Village Justice Court, but up until recently that service was performed on the mainland. Thanks to the persistence of Village & Justice Court Clerk Jonneigh “Bunny” Adrion, OBPD Chief George Hesse, and retired Court Officer Diane Montes that all changed this spring.

According to Montes, who has been hired to administer the program, she and Adrion had advocated several times over the past half-dozen years to have community services performed here where the violations occurred.

“Six years ago, prior to my retirement as a court officer for New York State, I approached the judge and the village to do it, but no luck. Three years ago, Jonneigh brought it up again to the administration but still a no go.”

Apparently, the Village was concerned about insurance issues and the cost of administering the program. Spurred on by an impassioned written request by Chief Hesse, Mayor James Mallott and Village Administrator Joe DiFrancisco agreed to take a closer look.

The chief’s report noted that there isn’t one magic solution to the quality-of-life issues concerning our citizens. Community Service is just another tool in the box. “If they mess it up, they should clean it up,” Hesse said.

Further research revealed that no additional insurance was necessary and the Village is able to charge a fee to help defray the cost of Montes’ part-time salary. On June 17, 2023, the project was launched with five violators appearing in court and agreeing to participate.

According to Adrion, the majority of the participants are minors and the most common offenses are underage drinking and disorderly conduct.

The program is not mandatory, but the parents of the violators, who must appear in court with their minors, are generally in favor of the option and encourage their kids to participate.

“There’s a big benefit to the Village and it sends a great message,” Adrion said

The participants are required to wear conspicuous yellow vests emblazoned with the words Ocean Beach Community Service.

Three of the first five participants left court that day and went directly to work.

“Their duties were cleaning debris throughout the village from east to west, then we proceeded down to the beach. We used the buckets that VOBEC supplied at the end of Cottage Walk and they cleaned up litter that was on the beach. One participant even pushed a dead little shark back into the water to continue the circle of life cycle,” Montes added.

This program also is open for volunteers to help and for Fire Island kids who need community service hours to fulfill school requirements. Find the Community Service page on the website for more information.