October 19, 2007 GARDEN CITY, N.Y. _ County leaders planned to create a bias crimes task force and 2,000 town employees were to undergo diversity training as officials deplored a series of nooses found on suburban Long Island. While authorities have suggested some of the nooses may be the work of copycats, "it doesn't take away from the magnitude of what the event is," Corey Pegues, the president of the Long Island chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said early Friday. "When you put out a noose ... you're looking to inflict fear and severe emotional distress on a whole group of people." "This is not a game to us," said Pegues, whose group planned a news conference on the issue later Friday. A noose was discovered Thursday on a fence at a Long Island public works garage, a day after two nooses were found at another community's highway department garage. Late last month, a noose was found hanging in the headquarters of a third municipality's police department. All were within the town of Hempstead, in Nassau County. While it was not known who committed the acts, Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray announced Thursday that the town's 2,000 employees would undergo diversity and sensitivity training. Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi said he would convene a bias crimes task force to be co-chaired by his police commissioner, Lawrence Mulvey. "All of us have a stake in stopping these hate crimes," Suozzi said. The discoveries were among a number of recent incidents, locally and nationally, involving the symbols of lynchings in the Old South. The nooses also furthered a recent spate of apparent hate crimes around the metropolitan area. In New York City, two men were arrested Thursday in what police called a racially charged attack on a black man in Staten Island. Detectives also were investigating reports of a spray-painted swastika discovered Thursday morning on a sign outside a Queens synagogue, and of swastikas found Wednesday afternoon written in chalk on the walls of a Manhattan high school, one of emblazoned with, "Hitler is back." Nooses were found earlier this month on a black professor's door at Columbia University and outside a post office near ground zero. "It looks like copycat syndrome is in full bloom," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. On Long Island, the latest noose was discovered at about 6:45 a.m. Thursday inside a Nassau County Department of Public Works facility in Baldwin, said DPW Commissioner Ray Ribeiro. The facility, which he described as "a typical road maintenance garage," has about 50 to 60 employees. An employee who found the 18-inch noose hanging off a chain-link fence, Ribeiro said. The incident followed the discovery Wednesday of two nooses inside a Hempstead Town garage in nearby Roosevelt, an ethnically diverse community in central Nassau County. One was wrapped around the neck of a green, stuffed, cartoon gremlin-type figure with black tar on its face. The other, larger, noose was dangling from a forklift. "We have to have zero tolerance on something like this," Murray said after a prayer service with about 30 clergy members and others. Last month a noose was found in the locker room of the Hempstead Village police department. In the small town of Jena, La., racial tensions began rising in August 2006 after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended by the school, but not prosecuted. Nooses also have been found at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.