Timothy Sini, Suffolk’s district attorney, capped a pretty good week on Friday.
First up, his swearing-in ceremony was held on Tuesday, which meant it went off without a hitch — compared with ceremonies for some other Long Island officials which, later in the week, were postponed due to a snowstorm and the season’s coldest temperatures.
In addition, Sini’s swearing-in was held indoors, at Suffolk County Community College. On New Year’s Day, Sini’s master of ceremonies, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, hatless in 9-degree temperatures, had attended Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s outdoor ceremony.
Then came Friday, and the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement that the Eastern District of New York is getting two new assistant district attorneys to handle gangs and other violent crime cases.
“I would love to see more assistant U.S. attorneys stationed in Central Islip,” Sini, then-Suffolk’s police commissioner, said in an interview last March. Back then, Sini was seeking assistance from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in securing federal funds to combat the MS-13 gang after the brutal killings of two Brentwood high school girls.
During an address in a crowded campus theater on Tuesday, Sini said his office would “proactively target MS-13 and other violent street gangs” through a new gang unit that would work with other local, state and federal agencies.
Two additional federal prosecutors no doubt will bolster that multiagency effort.
But while Sini’s past week went well, the path forward will be challenging.
During a 19-minute speech, Sini — addressing more than 120 assistant district attorneys in the crowd of 500 — mentioned the word “culture” four times:
“We always seek truth and we act as guardians of the criminal justice system by creating and implementing a culture of compliance with all of our ethical and legal obligations.”
“I have begun to implement a team and a culture that will usher in this new era of criminal justice.”
“We will have a culture where we are tough, but fair, where we view our legal and ethical obligations as a way of life and not as burdens, and where we simply do the right thing in each and every case, every single situation, every task and every moment that we are fortunate enough to serve the people of Suffolk County.”
“I will create a culture that empowers my administration, my assistants to do the right thing, to secure convictions that will withstand appeal, and to protect the innocent.”
It’s a lot to promise.
Then again — given that Suffolk’s former district attorney and a deputy are fighting federal corruption allegations — there are challenges.
The key one, of course, is blasting away the tarnish of mistrust.