To that end, DeMarco has formed a Sheriff's Office Citizens Advisory Board, the first of its kind in Suffolk County.
The group's mission is to work collaboratively to create and implement programs that resolve conflict, concerns and issues regarding the sheriff's office and the community.
Sub-committees will also be formed, with the goal of furthering communication and understanding among various community groups and the sheriff’s office.
The initiative, DeMarco said, is an important first step in “preserving public trust in county law enforcement,” which he said has been the subject of intense media scrutiny in the past year.
The first meeting will be held in early February.
Duties of the board will include providing an annual review to DeMarco regarding complaints and other comments from the community related to the sheriff's office and its policies and operating procedures.
The board will also consider and discuss programs to further community input, and review and comment on law enforcement activities in the sheriff's office, as well as operations.
In addition, the board will attend community events and establish board meetings in towns throughout the year to allow for public comment.
The board is made up of Riverhead's Rev. Charles Coverdale, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Riverhead, Father Francis Pizzarelli, founder and executive director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson and a professor at Suffolk County Community College, Miller Place psychotherapist Barrie Jacobsen, attorney Jaime Marcos of Bay Shore's Marcos & Negron, LLP, Robert Lloyd, executive director of the Long Island Citizens for Community Values, and Daniel Wild, a retired New York City police officer and veteran of the United States Armed Forces.