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Police to crack down on MS-13 after gang threat, top cop says

Crime Stoppers in Nassau and Suffolk offer total $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of anyone who threatens an officer’s life.

Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott, at a news conference Friday, said he wants more security measures, including more patrols, in response to MS-13 threats to "take out a cop" in the Hempstead area.  (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

Nassau’s top cop said the department will be cracking down on MS-13 street gang members this weekend, hours after police departments across Long Island went on high alert after officials said gang members twice threatened officers in Hempstead.

“We’re putting a big push . . . focusing on MS-13,” said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, explaining that the two-day offensive would aim to take gang members off the streets.

Law enforcement officials said they were still investigating what they called two credible threats that were made against police officers. On Wednesday afternoon, an informant told Hempstead Village police of a threat: An MS-13 gang member had urged other members to “take out a cop.”

Ryder said on Friday that the first threat happened on March 27, when MS-13 members were parked in a car with masks and weapons and were watching a Hempstead officer. The officer received a call and drove off before the gang members had a chance to do any harm to the officer, Ryder said of the incident.

No arrests have been made in connection with either of those threats, Ryder said on Friday. Several departments said they were taking several steps to safeguard officers.

Without going into detail about specifics, the Suffolk Police Department said through a statement it “has taken necessary precautions to protect our officers.”

Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart encouraged citizens with information about MS-13 threats come forward. “It is the department’s hope that anyone with information about these threats will do what is right and provide details to thwart acts of violence,” Hart said.

Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan said the department is remaining vigilant. “We’re certainly concerned about our officers and community, and we’re investigating it vigorously,” McGowan said.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said anyone arrested in connection with the threats will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“There is no way we are going to be intimidated by people outside of our country or by thugs from MS-13,” Singas said.

Ryder said he thought the threats were tethered to recent efforts to combat the gang, including the most recent indictment of Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, MS-13’s alleged East Coast kingpin. That investigation recently led to the arrest of 17 gang members in El Salvador, something Ryder said the leadership overseas will want to retaliate for.

Meanwhile, union officials and other agencies have announced their own $25,000 reward in addition to the one offered by Nassau County Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of anyone who wants to harm a police officer.

“They are so bold as to put out a hit on a police officer,” said Nassau PBA President James McDermott. “If they’re able to kill or hurt one of our officers then what does that tell the public?”

Meanwhile Suffolk County officials also announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

With Craig Schneider

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