Republican Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins said Monday that if elected, he would create a new “gang czar” in the Nassau Police Department, with a focus on MS-13.
Martins, a Republican from Old Westbury, announced a plan to tackle county gang violence at news conference in Mineola with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and 21 county and local law enforcement unions that back Martins’ candidacy.
“This is a public safety crisis,” said Martins, a former state senator. “When we are focused on finding bodies it’s already too late.”
Martins said he would create an inspector-level position within the police department to coordinate resources to combat gang violence, including intensifying patrols and working with federal authorities to deport undocumented violent gang members.
The plan also calls for increasing anti-gang education programs in Nassau schools and altering the conditions around known gang hangouts by cutting hedges, restructuring fence lines and adding lights and cameras.
“We are going to dismantle these groups,” Martins said. “We are going to wipe them out.”
Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), Martins’ Democratic opponent, has called for boosting the hiring of police cadets to help combat the county’s heroin and opioid epidemic and to clamp down on gang violence.
She said in a statement that Martins took “no real effective steps” on the gang problem as Mineola mayor, adding: “Ending gang violence is going to take smart decisions and concrete plans, not election season lip service.”
Acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said he was concerned that members of the Hispanic community and their children are being targeted.
“I support any additional assistance as we continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to eradicate all gangs and their illegal activities in Nassau County,” he said.
Officials believe MS-13 violence has been responsible for more than 20 murders across Long Island since 2016.