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Former gang task force cops honored by Suffolk lawmaker

Two Suffolk detectives who were abruptly taken off a federal task force after solving some of the region's most violent gang crimes were honored Tuesday by the county legislature.

Suffolk Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) honored Det. William Maldonado and Det. John Oliva before the regular meeting for their work on the federal Long Island Gang Task Force. Trotta also is a former member of the task force.

Trotta was flanked by more than a dozen federal and local law enforcement officials, including officers from the Nassau police and sheriff's departments and members of the task force who attended to show support for the two Suffolk detectives.

Between April 2010 and August 2012, Maldonado and Oliva helped arrest 27 gang members linked 12 homicides, more than 20 assaults and more than a dozen robberies.

"I can tell you with 25 years of experience and a lot of education that is not intelligence-led policing," Trotta said at the public meeting. "That's stupidity."

Police Commissioner Edward Webber and Chief of Department James Burke did not attend the meeting. A call for comment through a spokesman was returned by an emailed statement:

"The two detectives that are currently assigned to the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force are both highly motivated, dedicated, decorated, experienced police officers. They are well suited to handle the highly sensitive gang investigations that the Task Force investigates."

Maldonado and Oliva have since been replaced by two rookie detectives, who, at the time of their appointments, were in still their probationary periods, Trotta said.

Law enforcement sources said the new detectives "have not made any cases" in Suffolk and are assisting federal authorities with cases in other jurisdictions. Further, the new detectives are not working on any cases involving one of Long Island's most notorious gangs: MS-13, the sources said, adding they do not yet have top-secret federal clearance as the prior detectives did.

After leaving the gang task force, Maldonado was transferred to the Sixth Precinct, then most recently to the Arson Bomb Squad. Oliva, who is fluent in Spanish and whom Trotta called an expert at handling MS-13 cases, was transferred to the Fifth Precinct, where "the next case he had was a stolen gum ball machine from a stationary store."

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