Long Island Community Seeks to Start Gang Safety Zone


A controversial law enforcement technique called a gang injunction “safety zone” has been getting the attention of law enforcement in at least eight states, says NPR. It lists people police say are gang members and bans them from meeting or even speaking to each other inside a defined geographic area. Police in Wyandanch on New York’s Long Island are trying to convince a judge that curtailing rights normally protected under the Constitution can make their community safer.

Law enforcement officials need two key things for a gang injunction safety zone: a place troubled by gangs, and a list of gang members. In a small corner of Wyandanch, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is pushing to create a safety zone. Levy sees it as an experimental tool police can use to prevent gang violence. He is sympathetic to critics who say the zones violate people’s freedom of speech and right to assemble. He says police should be able to constrain people with criminal pasts. “Things change when you’re convicted and there are conditions placed upon your future, and that’s exactly what’s happening in this case,” Levy says. “The great thing about this process is it gives the opportunity for due process.”

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