The discovery of skeletal human remains in Brentwood Friday likely won’t do much to quell community concern over this year’s spike in killings in Brentwood and neighboring Central Islip.
Neither will any more short-term efforts to bring gang violence in the communities under control.
This is all probably new for Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini, who spoke to residents at a vigil last week and who is expected to stand before the community again, Tuesday night, at a school district meeting.
But for Brentwood and Central Islip residents, gang-related murders and violence is something they’ve suffered through before.
In 2010, there were six murders in six months. Then-County Executive Steve Levy, in a meeting at a community church, promised change.
In 2012, Lenny Tucker, then head of the Brentwood Association of Concerned Citizens, traveled west to Huntington Station to hear newly elected County Executive Steve Bellone say he had redeployed the county’s anti-gang officers to the county’s seven police precincts, rather than having one centralized unit.
Part of that reorganization pulled detectives — credited with solving some of the area’s most brutal gang-related murders — from a federal gang task force. Less than a year later, Bellone reversed course and Suffolk rejoined the federal group.
How did those changes play out in the community?
Last week, some of the residents gathered at curbside memorials for Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, students at Brentwood High School’s Ross Center, said they had noticed a decrease in gang activity a few years ago — only to see it ramp up again, with the deaths of Mickens and Cuevas, who were beaten to death.
“We had some relief for a couple of years, and now that’s gone,” said Robert Aviles, who has lived in Brentwood for more than 50 years.
Police found one set of skeletal human remains in a wooded area off the Regis Park neighborhood in Brentwood on Friday, a police department spokesman confirmed after the department issued a news release Monday.
The spokesman, Justin Meyers, said the remains were at the medical examiners office. He said he would have no comment on their condition, or whether they were related to last week’s slayings.
The remains were found in an area west of Emjay Boulevard, a winding stretch of road that reaches south from Suffolk Avenue to Eisenhower Avenue. On a map, Emjay looks like the left-brace symbol on a keyboard, separating a residential neighborhood from an industrial park.
On one corner of Eisenhower — one of a grid of streets named after eleven generals — a couple of houses are covered in gang graffiti. But there was no sign of activity at those houses Saturday morning, and most neighbors appeared to be content going about their business.
Still, should the medical examiner determine foul play as the cause of death for the remains, that would bring the number of deaths investigated by police in Brentwood and Central Islip to seven, so far this year.
Meyers said increased police presence would ensure that the community’s streets, and schools, are safe.
The bigger job, however, is to ensure they stay that way.