Gang officers reassigned to precincts
January 24, 2012 by TANIA LOPEZ / tania.lopez@@newsday.com
The Suffolk County anti-gang unit will be reshaped, with commanders being assigned to individual police precincts in an effort to improve accountability, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday.
In an afternoon news conference, Bellone and acting Police Commissioner Edward Webber announced the change that means the transfer of seven supervisors and 32 officers.
"If the gang units are in headquarters rather than the precincts there is no collaboration with officers in the streets," Bellone said.
One unit centrally located is not as effective as having each of Suffolk's seven police precincts assigned its own special unit, he said.
Decentralizing the unit gives commanders more flexibility, Webber said.
The new structure also means precinct commanders and lieutenant commanders would be more accountable for "showing results" in foiling gang-related crime, Webber said.
The move is a stark contrast from what was formed nearly three years ago when former Police Commissioner Richard Dormer announced the creation of what he called the Gang Suppression Team.
That unit was born after a series of vicious gang-related attacks in Suffolk County in 2009. The unit reorganized officers already assigned to combating gangs across precincts into a single team and included 20 officers, five sergeants and one lieutenant then assigned throughout all seven precincts.
The rationale then was that gangs did not care about precinct boundaries and that a single team would be better able to gather intelligence and work together as a cohesive group. In addition, the single unit would be better able to share resources. With John Valenti