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Aug 8, 2017 5:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Police Chief Worries About Growing Presence Of MS-13 Gang

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki speaks at the Hampton Bays Beautification Association meeting on Monday night. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Aug 8, 2017 6:00 PM

As authorities continue to crack down on gang strongholds in western Suffolk County, Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki has voiced worries that those ongoing raids will push the gangs, and the violence that comes with them, eastward—and into his jurisdiction.

Chief Skrynecki, who took over earlier this year after spending more than three decades with the Nassau County Police Department, told those attending Monday night’s Hampton Bays Beautification Association meeting that his officers are already seeing signs of gang activity in their hamlet, including the work of the notorious MS-13 gang.

He noted that last month’s raid of a Foster Avenue home, which he said broke up a brothel that had been operating from the house and resulted in eight arrests, was the culmination of an investigation that was targeting illicit drugs sales and prostitution overseen by MS-13. He noted that, during their raid, law enforcement officers observed a tag for the gang on one of the house’s windows.

More than a year earlier, in May 2016, four men—two from Hampton Bays, one from Flanders, and one from Westhampton—were charged with two counts of felony first-degree gang assault following a double-stabbing in the parking lot of the former Charlie Brown’s Bar and Grill on West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays. Those charges were eventually dropped because of a lack of evidence, but Chief Skrynecki said the four had ties to MS-13.

Police had said, at the time, that the incident escalated from a simple bar fight into a gang-related incident.

Chief Skrynecki said he is concerned that the number of gang-related crimes will only continue to climb in the hamlet—where he said gang members already reside—and across the East End if his department fails to step up its enforcement.

He said he worries that ongoing efforts to deal with violent gang incidents in communities to the west will force gang members to head east, where they think they can enjoy more anonymity.

“I have some concerns that if we look like a nice, comfortable place to land, that these people who are feeling the law enforcement heat in that area might say, ‘I have friends out east, and my friends are saying it’s nice and comfortable here. Nobody bothers us out here. Come on out,’” Chief Skrynecki said as he addressed about two dozen members of the beautification association while in full uniform.

“That’s definitely a concern of mine,” he continued. “And I’m going to be taking a very strong stance on that.”

To that end, Chief Skrynecki said he has already started to take action.

He said he has had discussions with Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen, who has been asked to contact authorities whenever he suspects gang activity or spots gang-related graffiti. Also, the new police chief said he has had conversations with Minerva Perez, executive director of Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island, explaining that undocumented immigrants are often targeted by gang members when they are seeking new recruitments.

The MS-13 gang, in particular, prefers to target undocumented immigrants because most are afraid to contact the police, even if they witness a crime, because they fear deportation, according to Chief Skrynecki.

Susan von Freddi, president of the Hampton Bays Beautification Association, and other members of the group asked what they can do to assist the police. Chief Skrynecki responded that they should report suspected gang graffiti to his department before cleaning it up. He added that MS-13 gang members’ tags typically include the letters and number in the name, though Roman numerals are sometimes used.

“Unfortunately, it’s here,” Chief Skrynecki said of MS-13. “But they are everywhere. There is practically no community without some small interests with MS-13. And yours is really small—really small. Compared to some areas in Nassau County where I came from it is almost non-existent.

“But if we don’t keep our eyes on it, particularly now, [and] if we’re not conscious that this can move here … I’m concerned that it can get worse,” he added.

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If MS-13 gets worse here then the chief should be replaced, plain & simple.
By pw herman (723), southampton on Aug 9, 17 8:19 AM
thanks for the news flash, they've been "here" for quite some time...a disaster waiting to happen. Something needs to be done now
By joeg (15), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 8:54 AM
This idiot comes from Nassau where they did nothing about ms13 for a decade, and now he's some expert on the subject. Long Island was so bad that they needed the Feds to clean it up at the direction of Donald Trump. This guy is clueless and the town should of got a chief out of the dept. Not from 60 miles away.
By chief1 (2335), southampton on Aug 9, 17 9:18 AM
2 members liked this comment
The real problem he is the owners of the properties who rent their homes to these gang members and don't care one bit about the neighborhood. The only thing they care about is the money they get. Start screening the people who you are renting to if you have a ounce of care in your body. Remember one day your child might be a victim of there's and who are you going to blame then? Oh wait I guess the Police. Shame on the greedy home owners who rent to them!!!
By Tomjulie (24), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 10:02 AM
The real problem he is the owners of the properties who rent their homes to these gang members and don't care one bit about the neighborhood. The only thing they care about is the money they get. Start screening the people who you are renting to if you have a ounce of care in your body. Remember one day your child might be a victim of there's and who are you going to blame then? Oh wait I guess the Police. Shame on the greedy home owners who rent to them!!!
By Tomjulie (24), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 10:02 AM
They've spent the last 8 years giving presentations on how concerns about gangs on the East End were rooted in racism and xenophobia. Now, after welcoming tens of thousands of illegals with open arms, Democrats have suddenly discovered that there was never any way to distinguish those who are "escaping violence" from the people committing that violence.
By NateNewtown (23), east on Aug 9, 17 10:28 AM
4 members liked this comment
LIberals have ruined this country and the east end. The Hamptons used to be a great place, now it is filled with liberal scum who took over and implore their socialist values on everyone. Damn ashamed to say I came from Southampton!
By Walt (264), Southampton on Aug 9, 17 12:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
What an absolute joke. Comes in, disregards all facts and the word of the previous police chief, and the word of his own investigators, to push Trump's narrative.

For such a decorated brace officer, he seems to be scared of an awful lot -- nonexistent terrorist attacks, imaginary gangs.

Please go back home to Nassau, chief. You don't belong out here...
By Brandon Quinn (113), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 12:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting that you believe it's ok to decide who "belongs" here, when you think illegal aliens have every right to be here.

I'd suggest that since you don't think our democratically enacted immigration laws are valid and therefore you and your kind feel free to encourage the breaking of them, YOU don't belong here.
By MoronEliminator (87), Montauk on Aug 9, 17 1:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
BQ:

I have not been overly impressed with some of the Town Board's hiring decisions over the past several years, especially for the positions of Town Attorney and Police Chief when they went outside of the department), and this current Chief has quite a ways to go to earn the trust and confident of the citizens he serves.

But you are way off the mark when you cite "nonexistent terrorist attacks" and "imaginary gangs." If anything were to occur in those areas, I imagine you would ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1733), Northampton on Aug 9, 17 2:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow, the sky is falling?
By dnice (1988), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 10:10 PM
You are living in a bubble if you think we are not at risk out here. Wake up!
By Taz (314), East Quogue on Aug 9, 17 12:38 PM
2 members liked this comment

Anyone else out there completely flabbergasted by the Mezynieski verdict?? He Would've gotten more probation for a DUI!!!
By Lets go mets (320), Southampton on Aug 9, 17 5:46 PM
Totally.
By June Bug (1461), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 9, 17 6:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Let's Go Mets, I've been quite ill and missed this case completely. Googling it got me lots of hits but no verdict. Please clue me in.
By oneseriousSicilian (33), medford on Aug 9, 17 8:24 PM
Southampton Town Police are absolute clowns who couldn't follow a trail of powdered sugar to a box of donuts.
By oneseriousSicilian (33), medford on Aug 9, 17 8:19 PM
This guy is an idiot. I had the opportunity to speak with him a y'all he could talk about is how they do it in Nassau. It's not Nassau you ass...
By guest (54), Bridgehampton on Aug 9, 17 9:26 PM
It's not Kansas either no matter how many times you click the heels of your ruby slippers together.
By HB Proud (780), Hampton Bays on Aug 10, 17 6:40 AM
But didn't Chiefy just tell us crime is way down and all is well? Maybe he should just stay in his comfy & safe Northport home. What a moron
By G (307), Southampton on Aug 10, 17 7:06 AM
"But didn't Chiefy just tell us crime is way down and all is well?"

That was last week.
By bird (634), Sag Harbor on Aug 10, 17 8:56 PM
I don't think the MS-13 gang members are kicking over flower pots.
By HB Proud (780), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 17 7:43 AM
This Chief holds Credentials and Experience that No One Else in Law Enforcement or Private Life on the East End has ever seen and its apparent that he is Not Going to Do The Political Tap Dance that has been Sold to Residents For Years so as to Not Tarnish The Image of The Hamptons in order to Keep The Real Estate Prices High. Hopefully he can find a Solution for more Enforcement in the area of Reckless Drivers, Excessive Speed and Texting as an example...... which puts us All at Risk. Our Roads ...more
By Brady (6), Southampton on Aug 12, 17 3:25 AM
This guy carries make up on him in case of pop up presser and photo ops. Sadly it's true
By GoldenBoy (325), EastEnd on Aug 12, 17 11:43 AM
Does this now mean any of us men can rape a 14 year old girl for several years and get no friggin jail time????
Or is it only Southampton contractors....
By Rayman (51), southampton on Aug 12, 17 5:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
$$$$ This is a money pit served on a silver platter. Hire private security if it is NEEDED.
Benefit, cocktail party where does the dollar stop...
By knitter (894), Southampton on Aug 12, 17 6:35 PM
In fairness to the Chief he needs time to figure it out, hopefully, maybe a little to PC and I wish he would live here maybe on my block which has an empty house And a Section 8 house right down the street from the Ocean Pine permanent resident motel all have caused us nothing but problems. As long as the town board hides from its own laws and fiddles around the edges the true deminsion of the problem will never be articulated. It seems that we have an opportunity to effect change with this upcoming ...more
By tom (51), Hampton Bays on Aug 14, 17 12:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
I have not seen a single customer on that Trolly the entire summer....
By Rayman (51), southampton on Aug 14, 17 8:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
omg, even i can see that we are totally blowing it in hampton bays.

could be the last local's paradise....
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (423), southampton on Aug 14, 17 9:13 PM
Who is "we" are blowing it? Many of us recognize the issues and "we" have asked the Town Board to effectively address the issues for at least 2 administrations. Admittedly, the latest has taken some actions, but as the saying goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". We will see if the new police chief will be effective or will the Town leadership micromanage him into an ineffective stuffed shirt.
By HB Proud (780), Hampton Bays on Aug 15, 17 4:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
REMEMBER SANDY HOLLOW
DRAIN THE LOCAL SWAMP
By pw herman (723), southampton on Aug 15, 17 6:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Solution to MS-13: Colonel Walter E. Kurtz.
By bird (634), Sag Harbor on Aug 18, 17 5:50 PM
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