Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Thursday he planned to use new state data showing 73 percent of all illegal guns used to commit crimes on Long Island originated in Southern states to target gun traffickers in conjunction with federal authorities.
The new data, compiled in a report released last week by the office of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, also shows that 85 percent of illegal handguns recovered in Nassau and Suffolk counties were from out of state from 2010 to 2015, when a total of 4,844 guns were recovered.
Sini, speaking at a news conference in Hauppauge with Schneiderman and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said the police department’s newly created Firearms Suppression Team, or FAST, would partner with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to stem the so-called “iron pipeline” of guns from Southern states.
“The police department is committed to this goal of reducing firearm violence, removing illegal firearms from the street, and this tool that the attorney general created is really going to open up the possibilities,” Sini said. “We’re going to utilize this data to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to target traffickers and really get at the source of the problem here in New York.”
Schneiderman said the statewide gun data would bolster the case for federal and state gun reform laws, which he said should include all states requiring gun licenses to own handguns and universal background checks for gun purchases.
“The limitations put on our law enforcement agencies and on federal law enforcement based on ideology in Washington are impeding our process,” the attorney general said. “This tool that we launched last week is a huge breakthrough and the partnership we have here today, you’re going to see real results in Suffolk County from this.”
Bellone, who recently proposed cutting funding for the gunfire detection system ShotSpotter in his upcoming budget, called the issue of gun violence a “top priority” in the county.
“If we’re going to drive things forward as policymakers, we need information, we need real data, and the data being provided and the information being provided is critical,” said Bellone, adding it would help the police department to “continue to fight this epidemic.”
Suffolk Police Officer Mark Collins, who was shot in the line of duty by gang member Sheldon Leftenant in 2015 in Huntington Station, appeared with the officials at the news briefing and called it “an extremely worthwhile program.” Leftenant was sentenced earlier this year to 55 years to life in prison for the shooting.
“I’m glad to see that we can all come together and fight for a cause that could help protect the police officers and citizens that are out there on a daily basis trying to benefit and make the society we live in a better place,” said Collins, who is still on the job.