ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A special unit of the state police is being assigned to 10 high schools on Long Island in an effort to stamp out gang violence, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The 10 state troopers will work to educate school administrators and teachers about ways to recognize if a student is a member of a gang or at risk of joining. The troopers will also create a curriculum that instructs students on the dangers of gangs such as MS-13, which has been tied to a wave of recent violence on Long Island.
"They are thugs that have to be stamped out," said Cuomo, a Democrat, who traveled to Long Island to make the announcement. "I consider them domestic terrorists. Either they win or we win ... and we are going to win."
The 10 schools are in Brentwood, Central Islip, Huntington, Longwood, South Country Central and Wyandanch. Each school was determined to have higher concentrations of gang violence and more students perceived to be at risk of recruitment.
State police have already beefed up patrols in affected areas and added investigators to a joint law enforcement task force on gang violence. The new troopers, and their educational mission, represent another front in the fight.
"It's a partnership," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini. "So we'll be doing educational seminars with educators. Educating the educators about gangs and also providing them information about what resources are available in the county and the state so that they can intervene in children's lives; children who are at risk of joining gangs."
The street gang MS-13 has been blamed for 21 deaths in the suburbs east of New York City in the past 21 months. The killings, many of which have involved teenagers, have caught the attention of both President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom have visited Long Island in recent months to promise federal action to stem the violence.