Gang prevention units to be deployed to some Suffolk schools

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Central Islip Wednesday to announce the formation of gang prevention units at seven school districts in Suffolk County. 

He said that 10 members of the state police will be placed in 10 Suffolk schools that have the "highest incidents of gang-related activity." He says their job will be to "train the teacher to learn the signs of gang recruitment and gang activity." 

The governor says those troopers will act as a resource for both students and teachers to go to if they are bullied or threatened by gang members.

"The breeding ground [for gangs] is the schools…and schools are where a lot of these gangs actually operate," said Gov. Cuomo. That's where they recruit, that's where they intimidate, that's where they meet." 

The troopers will be placed in Brentwood, Central Islip, Huntington, Longwood, Wyandanch and Bellport high schools. They will also be placed in the Freshman Center in Brentwood, Longwood Junior High School, Ralph G. Reed Middle School and Brentwood West.

Some of these schools already have Suffolk police officers in the schools acting as "school resource officers." 

Community activists said they hadn't heard anything about more money for after-school programs and gang prevention programs. The executive director of STRONG Youth program told News 12 Long Island that Suffolk County pledged $1 million in funding last September for their anti-gang program to be placed in the Brentwood School District but that they have not yet seen a single dollar. 

A spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone confirmed a contract was signed last week, but said he would "find out" what the delay was. 

Suffolk police and state police said they have made 270 arrests of 190 MS-13 gang members since September 2016. Some were arrested multiple times. Homeland Security Investigations said it has arrested 110 gang members, who are in deportation proceedings. Still, the state said there are more than 400 MS-13 gang members in Suffolk County. 

Wednesday marks one year since the killings of Brentwood teens Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas. Alleged MS-13 gang members have been charged in their deaths.

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