BRENTWOOD, Long Island (WABC) -- Errol Toulon Jr. is a fighter. He beat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, pancreatic cancer and now he's ready to fight crime in Suffolk County as the county's new sheriff. He is the first African American elected to a major Suffolk County position.
"For me, I think it shows if you put in hard work and persevere through some challenging times you can achieve anything you want to, and I hope that I'm a role model for not only African American and Latino individuals but also all ethnicities," he told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne in a sit-down interview Tuesday.
Toulon Jr., who used to run the gang unit at Rikers Island, said the department under his leadership will help combat the MS-13 gang in Suffolk County.
"What we want to do from a correctional standpoint is actually gather intelligence make sure it's actionable so we can get it to our law enforcement partners, they can go out and get the bad guys and as they come into our system we'll continue to dig and dig and dig and probe," he said.
Toulon Jr. said he's not prepared to give a formal statement on the detaining of Hispanic individuals wanted by federal immigration authorities. The policy came under scrutiny several years ago by the ACLU and other immigrant advocate groups. It ceased in 2014, but resumed shortly after President Trump's election.
"We will look at each one on a case-by-case basis and will not randomly turn over individuals or prevent the federal authorities from doing their job," he said.
Toulon Jr. said his other goals over his next four-year term are to encourage a strong reentry program for former prisoners and fight the opioid and heroin epidemics.
"I want to get to the young children and talk to them about positive role models and positive attitudes before they get to me and they're behind bars," he said.
New Suffolk County sheriff reflects on historic election, MS-13 and opioid crisis
More TOP STORIES News