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Gang-violence activists: Where's Steve Levy?

Where's Steve Levy?

That's what residents in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore have been asking since they organized to demand attention to the area's gang-violence problem.

Last year, there were nine deaths in Brentwood and neighboring Central Islip. It's less than three months into a new year, and there have been five.

"It's to where you can't have a casual outing with your family anymore," said Lee Sydnor, who lives in Brentwood.

Last week, after the family ordered a pizza, Sydnor and his wife, Pandora, stopped their daughter, Palace, 20, from leaving the house to pick it up.

"My wife says, "Wait a minute, with everything going on, that's probably not a good idea, so I went out instead." Sydnor said.

He was one of several residents who earlier this week, as we stood in raw, cold wind and rain in a local park, wondered aloud why the county's top elected official has yet to visit a community so clearly in crisis.

"If there's something more important than this, only he knows and God knows," Sydnor said. "But it would have been nice to see him."

Wednesday, Mark Smith, a spokesman for Levy, said that the county executive would meet with residents in "two or three weeks," once the office determines a suitable forum.

He said that Levy did not attend an emotional meeting two weeks ago because he did not want to deal with the politics of a meeting organized by two of Levy's most outspoken critics, Rick Montano, a Democratic county legislator who represents the area, and Jeff Frayler, who is president of the county's police officers' union.

In a Newsday report after the meeting, Levy's office said he had not been invited to attend. Wednesday, Smith said the county executive's office did receive notice of the meeting from Montano's office a few days before.

During that meeting - which often grew emotional as victims' relatives addressed a panel that included Richard Dormer, Suffolk's police commissioner - an overflow crowd of more than 500 area residents demanded action.

At one point, they began chanting:

"Where is Levy?"

"Where is Levy?"

A second community meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening in Central Islip. Smith said that Levy's chief deputy county executive, Ed Dumas, would attend.

"The county executive knows about the situation and is working to address the situation," Smith said. He also said that Levy - who is considering a run for New York State governor - has met privately with some Brentwood residents.

That's not good enough for Lennie Tucker, a member of a group called Brentwood Residents Against Violence Everyday, which has a Facebook page that as of Wednesday had more than 2,100 fans.

"I want him to do his job," Tucker said. "He should be here if he should be anywhere and the fact that he's not sends a message to the community that he doesn't care."

There's one way to fix that: Levy, who spent part of Wednesday walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the St. Patrick's Day parade, needs to schedule a meeting ASAP with residents living near Fifth Avenue in Brentwood.

That's where he's really needed.

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