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Long IslandCrime

Suffolk, Huntington working on anti-gang strategy

A sign outside Huntington Town Hall is seen

A sign outside Huntington Town Hall is seen in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

Suffolk County and Huntington Town officials are working on a comprehensive strategy to combat gang violence and reduce crime, the town announced Thursday.

County Executive Steve Bellone, Police Commissioner Tim Sini, Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and town board members Susan Berland and Tracey Edwards met recently to discuss the strategy.

Edwards, who said she called for the meeting, said the town’s approach to those issues so far has been responding to specific incidents. She said she wants to take a strategic look at what can be done and how all levels of government can work together on the issues.

“Our constituents want and deserve government officials at all levels working together on a comprehensive plan that includes enforcement, intervention and prevention,” Edwards said.

Among the approaches discussed at the meeting were ways to engage youth through schools or social service programs to discourage them from joining gangs.

The meeting came ahead of an expected visit by President Donald Trump Friday at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood to address the rising gang issue.

Edwards called for a state, county and town leadership meeting to discuss additional measures that government could make against gang violence and guns. She said officials will meet again in two weeks to discuss ideas.

Bellone applauded town officials for organizing the meeting.

“Seamless communication between all levels of government is essential to reduce crime and enhance public safety,” Bellone said in a news release.

“Working with the community to reduce gang recruitment plays a critical role in eliminating gangs from Suffolk County and the police department looks forward to partnering with the Town of Huntington on this issue,” Sini said in the release.

Because addressing gang violence is a “very important” issue, Edwards said she is hoping it stays nonpartisan.

“So let’s check our campaigns at the door and get down to business,” she said.

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