FOLLOWING a rash of shootings and stabbings in Brentwood in recent months, Suffolk police say they will respond with increased staffing levels and visibility.
Commissioner Richard Dormer's announcement Tuesday of reassignments and other changes in the precinct covering Brentwood came a day ahead of a planned public meeting to address violence in the community.
There have been six fatal attacks in Brentwood and at least six in Central Islip since the beginning of last year, as well as several near-fatal shootings and stabbings. Police and community members have tied many of those attacks to street gangs.
Among newly assigned personnel are four officers and a sergeant, who have been in teaching roles at the police academy and will now join the Third Precinct, which includes Brentwood. They will enable the creation of a tactical unit to target crime "hot spots," Dormer said.
An added patrol car assigned to Brentwood between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. will make a total of seven during the night shift; detectives assigned to gang and gun units already concentrating on the area in recent months will remain there.
The county's newly reformed gang suppression unit has made 29 felony arrests in Brentwood and locked up a total of 51 gang members since Dec. 1, according to the department.
Cracking down on gangs
"It's important to realize that every crime incident is not related to gangs, but gangs have been a problem in these communities . . . and part of what we're doing is cracking down on this activity," Dormer said.
The plan calls for increased police visibility by having emergency service and canine units patrolling in Brentwood while not on other assignments. Community outreach officers will also begin a new effort to organize community watch groups, Dormer said.
All but one of the recent Brentwood killings are unsolved, including the shooting death of David Sandler, 20, on Feb. 17, shot just steps from where Miguel Peralta, 57, was killed in a bodega robbery last September.
Police are also still looking for those responsible for killing Christopher Hamilton, 15, outside a friend's Brentwood home in November.
On Saturday, Alexander Santos Argueta-Ventura, 24, of Huntington Station, was stabbed to death on Gates Avenue by another man who then fled in a car, police said.
On June 16 of last year, 13-year-old Wilson Batista Jr. was shot while playing basketball in Timberline Park.
Community help sought
Suffolk County Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) who called Wednesday's meeting, said the department needs to build trust and enlist the help of a community where many are reluctant to engage with police.
"If you don't know the cop on the beat, you're not going to talk," he said.
Several civic groups and elected officials plan to attend the public meeting, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Brentwood Public Library. Dormer said he too would attend.
Dormer's plan for Brentwood crime
REASSIGNMENTS: Transfer of five personnel to Third Precinct tactical unit for neighborhood crime hot spots.
GUN, GANG UNITS: To patrol day and evening.
ADDED PATROL: One additional car assigned 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
DRUG DETECTIVES: Increased presence.
SUPPORTING UNITS: Emergency Service and canine units to help patrol.
DWI ENFORCEMENT: Team to patrol.
TECHNOLOGY: Increased use of electronic street surveillance.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Officers to help form neighborhood watch groups.
HEROIN UNIT: Heroin Opiate Task Force assigned to community.
POLICE INFO VAN: Will be at various locations to provide information about police programs.