Community, cops, courts: NYC mayor outlines plans to tackle violent crime
The initiative will create a targeted block-by-block police presence in strategic areas
By Kristin F. Dalton
Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Mayor Bill de Blasio put forth what he says is a comprehensive plan to end gun violence citywide following a sharp increase since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic last year.
The Safe Summer Initiative will implement "real consequences" for picking up a firearm while highlighting disincentives that come with a life of crime and providing meaningful alternatives for the city's youth.
Community, cops, and courts will be the three areas of focus and aims to provide increased coordination throughout all levels of the justice system, create a targeted block-by-block police presence in strategic areas, and increase community investments.
"We know what works and we're going to put that back into action in the months ahead," de Blasio said. "It's a perfect time to put this plan into place."
The mayor said the coronavirus pandemic created the "perfect storm" — loss of jobs, loss of incomes, closed houses of worship, increased stress, no school — that lead to the uptick in gun violence across the city.
Police saw a 97% increase in shootings across the five boroughs last year. However, only 1% of the city's population is responsible for up to 70% of violence citywide, he said.
A contributing factor were incidents deemed by police as "gang-related," as several communities now find themselves in a cycle of revenge killings, according to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, which studies public safety and criminal justice.
On Staten Island, animosity between different crews contributed to an unprecedented string of shootings last summer and fall in commercial and residential areas across the North Shore. Sources cite motives for gunplay over the years that include, but are not limited to:
—Revenge for a past assault, robbery or murder;
—The black-market marijuana trade;
—Dispute over a romantic relationship;
—At-risk youth seeking the respect of their peers.
"We will deter gun violence with real consequences," de Blasio said.
Here is an outline of the plan:
—Double the Cure Violence workforce to 650 and expand to at least 31 sites;
—More than double the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) from 800 to 2,000 during the summer and throughout the school year;
—Launch Operation Safe Parks and Gang-Free Zones to provide safe, protected places for people to congregate;
—Host Saturday Night Light games at 100 sites;
—Refurbish 15 NYCHA basketball courts;
—Increase Tip Rewards up to $5,000 to drive community engagement;
—Weekly anti-violence fairs in 30 neighborhoods.
—Precise police presence to prevent gun violence;
—Focus on 100 blocks with highest instances of gun violence;
—Re-launch Summer-All-Out and reassign 200 officers from administrative assignments to key areas;
—Strengthen federal partnerships to perform rapid tracing of firearms used in crimes and work with local partners and agencies to stop guns before they hit the street;
—Expansion of the Community Solutions Program, connecting community members to resources;
—Re-launch Ceasefire, using credible messengers to deliver anti-gun messaging to high-risk populations and areas;
—Launch a gun buyback advertising campaign.
—Implement a comprehensive plan to expand in-person operations;
—Collaboration between district attorneys, NYPD, and Mayors Office of Criminal Justice to mobilize resources focused on serious gun cases;
—Unveil NYC Joint Force to End Gun Violence;
—Create enhanced services and supervision for pretrial defendants for gun possession cases, which must be matched by state action, to support people on parole across the city.
Addressing 2020's unprecedented rise in violent crime
Police1 recently featured several articles from the Violence Reduction Project that looks at the complex factors involved in addressing violent crime. What strategies are working for your agency? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.