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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Abkeen Cochran

Abkeen Cochran, who was gunned down on a Hempstead street last Thursday, stands in stark contrast to the fact that the rate of violent crime in Nassau County is low and dropping. Any gun violence is too much. So it's welcome news that officials are targeting gun crimes, one category of offenses that ticked up last year. The goal is sustained crime reduction, which is the right target.
The plan, announced last week by Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice and county Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, includes undercover gun investigations, tougher prosecutions aimed at rooting out gun traffickers, an anonymous "Gunstoppers" tip line and help for paroled gun offenders to find alternatives to a life of crime.
Nassau isn't awash in gun violence. But there were 67 shootings with injuries last year, up from 54 in 2006. The rise is troubling, coming, as it does, when major crimes, including murder, rape and robbery, are down 12.6 percent.
declines may be difficult to sustain in the face of rising gun violence. The establishment of a special enforcement unit focused on tracing illegal guns to their source and taking down traffickers should help. Firearms in Nassau invariably come from somewhere else, since no guns are manufactured on Long Island.
But tougher enforcement is the easy part. More important is enlisting the community in the effort. And more difficult is using the stick of parole and the carrots of job training, education and other social services to help gun offenders make lives within the law. That last is critical to sustaining any progress in curbing gun violence and crime. And reducing crime, rather than locking people up after the fact, is one way to make the quality of Long Island life even better.


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