Suffolk County, New York

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Suffolk County, New York

Target Area: Brentwood, Bay Shore, and Central Islip - Brentwood Population: 60,664; Bayshore Population: 26,337; Central Islip Population: 34,450

BCJI Awardee: County of Suffolk

Research Partner: The Finn Institute

Focus Areas: Gang Violence (MS-13), Murder, Assault

BCJI Funding Year: FY2018

Neighborhood Characteristics

Brentwood is a community located in the Town of Islip in Suffolk County, New York. Of all the residents in Brentwood, males and females between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 8.3 percent and 7.5 percent of the total population, respectively. Racial demographics of the population are 48.4 percent White, 16.4 percent Black or African American, and 68.5 percent Latino or Hispanic. According to a 2012 study of gang activity on Long Island, Brentwood was found to have 12 percent of the total gang population in Suffolk County. Across Suffolk County, the five hamlets with the largest concentration of gang members are Brentwood (271), Huntington Station (230), Central Islip (223), Wyandanch (175), and Bay Shore (105). 

Bay Shore is also frequently identified by the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) crime analysts as a hot spot area. Bay Shore is located on the south shore of Long Island, only four miles south of Brentwood. Almost 14 percent of the Bay Shore population identifies as White, 19.6 percent identifies as Black or African American, and 30.8 percent identifies as Hispanic or Latino. Over 11.3 percent of the population lives in poverty.

Brentwood and Bay Shore have become flashpoints for crime and violence. For more than three years, Brentwood and its surrounding neighborhoods have experienced a new and disturbing criminal gang trend attributed to the El Salvadorian street gang MS-13. The group is associated with 25 murders on Long Island since 2016, including the killing of two teens from Brentwood High School and a quadruple homicide in Central Islip. In 2017, President Trump's visit to the Suffolk County Community College Campus in Brentwood sparked local dialogue about public safety challenges created by the immigration policies. The Suffolk County Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (SCBCJI) program seeks to address these issues while reducing crime in the target areas. 

Planning Phase

SCBCJI practitioners will use data-driven, community-oriented, and place-based strategies that promote partnerships and capacity building. This project will address intervention, prevention, and economic development through career development programming. The SCBCJI program will employ data collection and analysis methods to identify hot spots and individuals between the ages of 14 and 24 who are likely to be either a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime in the Brentwood and Bay Shore areas. SCBCJI will utilize community engagement activities to solicit feedback from community residents and stakeholders. These activities will include the participation of frontline law enforcement officers to build and enhance police legitimacy and mutual trust in the neighborhoods. Once feedback is collected from both community stakeholders and law enforcement, SCBCJI will incorporate evidence-informed responses that address common concerns. Lastly, SCBCJI will integrate revitalization and workforce development efforts that tackle unemployment and service gaps by providing training in construction, information technology, and other emerging fields. These trainings will be in conjunction with trade unions, United Way Youth Build, school districts, Habitat for Humanity, and the Heartland Project in Bay Shore. The Heartland Project could be a substantial source of construction jobs for community members who have had construction training. Strong collaboration and strategic partnerships will be relied on to leverage the resources of both the public and private sectors in this project.

During the Planning Phase, implementation strategies will be selected around four overarching goals:

  • Goal 1: Reduce crime
  • Goal 2: Increase mutual trust between community members and law enforcement
  • Goal 3: Improve community safety
  • Goal 4: Improve living wage career development
  • Goal 5: Spur revitalization in the Bay Shore and Brentwood neighborhoods

Other Key Partners

Suffolk County Police Department, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Suffolk County Probation, New York State Parole, Suffolk Felony Youth Part and Parole, Adelante of Suffolk County, Inc., Brentwood School District, Circles USA, United Way Youth Build, School Districts, Habitat for Humanity, and the Heartland Project.

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues. 

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