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Officials: FBI to increase anti-gang presence on LI

FBI agents load boxes into a van on

FBI agents load boxes into a van on Lexington Avenue in New York City while investigating a Garden City man. (April 29, 2009) Credit: AP File

The FBI will boost its anti-gang resources on Long Island by 30 percent and assign additional personnel to gang hot spots in Suffolk County as early as Monday in response to escalating violence in Brentwood and Central Islip, Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Wednesday after meeting in Washington with the bureau's New York chief.

Speaking to a group of Long Island elected officials, Joseph Demarest Jr., the FBI's assistant director in charge for New York, said the bureau would improve coordination with federal, state and local agencies and would participate in meetings with community leaders from Brentwood and Central Islip, according to officials who attended the meeting.

The gathering included Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Israel (D-Huntington) along with Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) and state Sen. Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point).

Demarest's presentation included details the elected officials said they could not make public, including how many additional officers will be deployed and where.

"They came in with a very specific, detailed strategy, with charts and deadlines and timetables, and a strategic plan on paper that tells me that they have given considerable thought to this," Israel said.

The FBI has had an anti-gang task force on the Island since 2002. In a statement, Demarest said: "From my perspective, it was an opportunity to hear the concerns of the elected officials, and to assure them that the FBI is committing additional resources to the vitally important issue of gang violence on Long Island."

FBI spokesman James Margolin said bureau officials will meet with a new citizens advisory board on gang violence in Brentwood and Central Islip, which Ramos is assembling.

A recent spate of attacks in Brentwood and Central Islip, responsible for nine deaths last year and five since January, has galvanized the community to demand more resources from elected representatives and to organize civic groups to fight gang violence.

The most recent victim, Joel Nieves, 16, remained in critical condition Wednesday after being shot five times in the back in Bay Shore on his way home from Brentwood High School last week, school district spokesman Rick Belyea said.

A second public forum on the issue is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Central Islip High School. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy did not attend the first forum on gang violence March 3 in Brentwood; his spokesman Dan Aug said Levy did not attend because he hadn't been invited, though Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) said an invitation had been delivered.

Aug said Levy would send a deputy and his police commissioner to tonight's meeting but would not attend. Levy received a flier about Thursday's event but not an invitation, Aug said.


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