ALBANY — Calling schools “the breeding ground” for dangerous gangs like MS-13, Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday announced state police will be going into schools to combat the problem.
Cuomo during a Long Island appearance said “gang prevention officers” from the State Police will be posted in the 10 Suffolk County schools believed to have the highest incidents of gang-related activity.
Suffolk County has been ravaged murders and violence committed by the Central American-based gang. The situation even resulted in a visit recently by President Trump, who vowed to “destroy the vile cartel MS-13.”
Cuomo said he considers MS-13 “domestic terrorists.”
“They are thugs,” Cuomo said. “They are thugs that have to be stamped out.”
Cuomo said school teachers are not equipped to deal with gang violence, which reinforces the need for a police presence that can work with educators to identify early warning signs of gang activity, interact with students, instructors and the community, and serve as a needed resource.
The State Police will also release a gang awareness curriculum, Cuomo said.
“This will not stop on its own,” he said of the gang problem. “It will stop because we make it stop.”
An existing interagency task force to go after MS-13 has led to 190 arrests. Cuomo in April announced that 25 troopers would be sent to Suffolk County to work with local police and federal agents in combatting the gang situation.
The posting of troopers in some schools is the next step, Cuomo said.
“It’s back to school time and schools are where a lot of these gangs actually operate,” he said. “That’s where they recruit, that’s where they intimidate, that’s where they meet. And this is a problem that the school system does not deal with.”
Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), who also attended the event with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, also promised a legislative package to deal with the gang issue in the 2018 session.
“He’s laid down the gauntlet,” Flanagan said of Cuomo. “He’s setting the tone of what’s going to go down when we go back to Albany. We have an obligation to listen, to act, to partner with him and all our partners in local government.”
“I want MS-13 to know the pressure is not going to ease,” Cuomo said. “The pressure is going to grow. And the resources are going to grow and the intensity is going to grow.”