Suffolk County Police welcomed hundreds of people, including several municipal organizations, to a Long Island park for the annual National Night Out on Tuesday.
This was Brentwood’s second year hosting the community-building event, where locals, especially kids, have the opportunity to interact with police in a friendly setting. This year's event was held at Gill Haunches Park.
While a fun night, the community was reminded of the MS-13 gang violence that has been making national headlines lately, especially after President Trump visited Long Island last week to address the growing issue.
“Few communities have suffered worse at the hands of these MS-13 thugs than the people of Long Island,” Trump said to a receptive audience that included federal and local law enforcement personnel.
Long Island has been the focus of MS-13 violence in recent months, with 17 murders by members of the gang in the area since Jan. 1, 2016, according to police officials. Most of the victims are teenagers, police say.
The deaths began to gain attention after best friends Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, both students at Brentwood High School, were killed in September by a carload of gang members who spotted them walking down the street.
Suffolk County locals remain hopeful though.
National Night Out event organizer Felicia Moss, who moved to Brentwood three years ago, said that the town is more than just its violent headlines.
“I haven’t had any encounters where there was violence or anything like that. It’s always about community support here,” she said.
Tim Sini, Suffolk County Police Commissioner, also said that there’s been progress against gang violence.