The recent spate of gang violence in Brentwood has garnered national attention and we need to come together to protect our families and get violent gang members off the street. While the homicide rate dropped last year in neighboring Nassau County, Suffolk County saw a nearly 40 percent increase.1
Last week, federal law enforcement officers arrested over a dozen members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, including four who were charged in the September murders of Brentwood high school students Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas.2 It’s imperative that we provide the necessary resources to local and state law enforcement and build bridges between the community and police to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. With an anti-immigrant federal administration, it’s imperative that we do all we can to protect immigrant communities and ensure they aren’t afraid to interact with law enforcement.
As a former police detective, I know what our men and women in uniform need to crack down on gang violence and make our streets safe. That’s why, last year, I secured a $1 million grant for local police to install dozens of license plate readers across Brentwood communities to help identify and remove criminals from our neighborhoods.
I’m also pushing for a series of bills designed to target gang members in Brentwood and throughout New York State. This legislation would create special gang courts, one of which would be located in Suffolk County (A.5136); increase penalties for gang-related offenses (A.5141); allocate greater resources for gang prevention programs (A.5252); and direct state police to develop a coordinated law enforcement response to gang violence (A.5938).
This is our home, and we can’t let violent street gangs jeopardize our safety – they don’t belong here. It’s time for us to band together. We can’t simply increase criminal penalties, though that’s an important part of our response to gangs. We must also do all we can to prevent youth from joining gangs in the first place.
I’ll keep fighting until violent organizations like MS-13 are eradicated from our neighborhoods. Their recklessness, carnage and lack of respect for human life and the law have absolutely no place in Brentwood.