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New Brentwood civic group meets with Steve Levy

Erica Boynton talks about her son, Christopher Hamilton,

Erica Boynton talks about her son, Christopher Hamilton, 15, who was shot and killed by suspected gang members while attending a party at his best friend's house in Brentwood. (March 10, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday /Alejandra Villa

Leaders of a new Brentwood civic group sat down with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy Tuesday and agreed to work with him to stop the escalating gang violence in their community and neighboring Central Islip.

In a private 45-minute meeting at Levy's office in Hauppauge, three members of the group, Brentwood Residents Against Violence Everyday - one the mother of a slain 15-year-old - asked for more police in spots where gang members are known to congregate as well as for better cooperation between Suffolk police and community leaders.

In recent weeks, the residents have criticized Levy's response to escalating gang violence in their communities as inadequate. Tuesday, they described the meeting as amicable even as they said they will not be satisfied until they see results.

"Action speaks louder than words," said Erica Boynton, whose son Christopher Hamilton was fatally shot in November in the front yard of his best friend's home. No arrests have been made in the case.

"I just want to see gangs off the streets completely," she said. "I lost my son already to it."

Lenny Tucker, executive director of the group, known as BRAVE, said he wanted Levy "to see the pain that is in Ms. Boynton's face, as a homeowner, as a parent and as a neighbor. This is about life and death. It's not about political agendas, it's about children's lives."

He and other residents had criticized Levy for not attending two public forums on gang violence and for not putting more police on the street. Levy, who sent his chief deputy to one of the meetings, said he was not consulted on the dates.

Levy described the meeting as "productive," and said he would act on the residents' suggestions, which included asking local youth leaders and clergy to act as liaisons between young people with information on gang activity and the police.

Levy plans to host his own public forum on April 5 in Brentwood, at a location yet to be finalized. The forum was scheduled for Monday but was changed because it's a school vacation week, Levy said Tuesday.

Levy said he would meet again with civic leaders, including those he met with Tuesday, in about three weeks.

"The more we talk, the more ideas we get," he said.

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