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Suffolk sheriff's office to be hub for national intelligence center, Toulon tells 52 new corrections officer graduates

Michael O'Keeffe

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office will serve as the hub of a nationwide effort by law enforcement to gather and share intelligence from jails and prisons, Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. announced Thursday at a graduation ceremony for 52 new corrections officers.

Details about the hub, set to open in January as the Correction Intelligence Center, or CIC, will be released early next year, officials said. During an address to the officers and others gathered at Suffolk Community College, Toulon said the CIC will allow law enforcement across the country to "vigorously work to combat crimes in our communities.”

Separately, Toulon told the new correction officers, representing one of the most diverse classes in the history of the agency, that they were joining a team dedicated to not only solving or preventing crime, but also rehabilitating inmates.

“The Suffolk County Correctional Facility is a new and innovative and progressive environment,” Toulon said. “We are the cure and the prevention of society’s woes, and I’ll tell you why we are the cure.”

He cited a variety of department programs designed to prevent inmates from returning to jail, including substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, employment assistance and housing.

“If we can help these men and women that are incarcerated return back to our communities, that is one less victim that we will have and that individual will be better off,” the sheriff said.

The new correction officers completed a 13-week training program. They join a force of 837 corrections officers working in Suffolk jails in Yaphank and Riverhead.

“To enter this career, to enter law enforcement, there is no more important task that we have in government than protecting the public, public safety,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told the graduates. “And all of you, as correction officers, are critical to keeping our public safe, our communities safe, in many ways the unsung heroes of law enforcement.”

About two-thirds of the graduates, who range in age from 21 to 51, are white. Nearly 20% are Black and 13% are Hispanic. Forty-five are male and seven are women. Ten had previously worked as corrections officers at New York City’s Rikers Island or state correctional facilities.

The latest Suffolk correction officer class is the third in 2022. Officials said 140 new corrections officers graduated from the Suffolk academy this year, the most in the agency’s history.

The September 2022 class had a similar racial breakdown, officials said.

Toulon said the CIC will collect and dissemate information from prisons and jails nationwide, similar to the sheriff’s intelligence unit, led by Undersheriff Kevin Catalina, who teamed up with Suffolk Police and District Attorney Ray Tierney’s office to solve and prevent crimes in the county.

The unit played a significant role in the takedown of 18 people who were allegedly members of the “No Fake Love” gang. According to a 148-count indictment announced earlier this week by Tierney, the gang was responsible for the killing of a man outside a Farmingville nightclub, violent carjackings and the shooting of two teens outside Rep. Lee Zeldin’s home.

Officials said the gang took orders from two leaders who were in custody in a Suffolk jail on other charges.