Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden recently announced a Firearms Rapid Indictment Program to expedite crimes involving firearms to Superior Court to expose serious offenders to stiffer sentences and potentially higher bails.
In late February, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office convened a special grand jury in addition to the regular sitting grand jury that will dedicate a significant portion of its time each week to hearing only cases involving firearm offenses and nonfatal shootings. The second grand jury provides the Office the ability to focus on gun cases in addition to the other felony cases backlogged due to COVID-19 restrictions on grand jury activity.
In addition to convening the second grand jury, the Office has designated two Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) assigned to the Gang Unit who will focus on preparing and presenting gun cases for indictment. These ADAs have secured specified weekly times to present gun cases for indictment.
“This week has so far provided a tragic example of the unacceptably high volume of guns on our streets. On Monday police arrested a man bringing in 11 high-capacity guns to sell,” Hayden said. “The next day we had a terrible shooting in front of a school while kids are loading onto a bus. This community terror has to stop, and our office is doing everything it can to target individuals who are responsible for it. I’m confident that the extra human resources we are dedicating through this rapid indictment program will be a positive step in addressing this distressing issue.”
Since initiating the program last month, the Office has secured indictments on 30 gun cases. In addition to potentially enhancing bail and conditions of release and exposing serious offenders to more lengthy Superior Court sentences, the Firearms Rapid Indictment Program is helping move cases through the system more efficiently. This process will help ensure that defendants have their day in court more quickly and address liberty issues as well as issues concerning the pretrial release of individuals as a result of COVID-19-related court and jail backlogs.