CENTRAL ISLIP, Suffolk County (WABC) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the deployment of a new Gang Violence Prevention Unit, consisting of 10 state troopers, to the top 10 high-risk schools in Suffolk County that currently serve as ground zero for gang activity and recruitment.
The new unit will work to stop gang violence before it starts and identify early warning signs of gang activity, and will also coordinate closely with the Suffolk County Police Department to launch an "Educate the Educators" program to help teachers and faculty recognize those early warning signs.
"That's where they recruit, that's where they intimidate, that's where they meet," Cuomo said. "I consider them domestic terrorists. Either they win, or we win"
In addition, the State Police will roll out a gang awareness curriculum directly to students to teach them about the dangers of gangs and foster a relationship between students and police.
Cuomo made the announcement on the one year-anniversary of the tragic murders of high school students Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas by MS-13, and the initiative comes on the heels of efforts to expand access to state intelligence and law enforcement assets in the fight against MS-13.
"It was hard for her," Cuevas' mom, Evelyn Rodriguez said. "At one point, she didn't trust anybody in the school. She thought they wasn't doing enough for the kids."
In April, Cuomo launched expanded patrols in Brentwood and Central Islip, providing an additional 25 state troopers, and added six investigators to the FBI-led Long Island Gang Task Force.
"Our number one job in government is to keep all New Yorkers, and especially our children, safe," he said. "By partnering with our schools, we will be better prepared to stop gang activity before it starts and end this heinous cycle of violence."
The 10 state troopers will work with 10 schools in six targeted districts: Brentwood, Central Islip, Huntington, Longwood, South Country Central and Wyandanch. The designated schools have been identified by law enforcement as having the highest concentration of gang violence and vulnerability to recruitment.
Gov. Cuomo deploys gang prevention officers to 10 high-risk Suffolk County schools
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