SE Qns pols unveil nine initiatives to stop violence

By Rebecca Henely

In anticipation of a gun buyback in Jamaica Saturday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and southeast Queens legislators announced Friday a nine-point plan to end the growing number of shooting deaths in the borough.

“As elected public officials, we believe it’s important to join together and denounce the recent level of gun violence in southeast Queens,” Brown said during a news conference at Queens Criminal Court.

The city’s CompStat statistics show as of Aug. 12 that homicides have gone up 28.6 percent this year compared to last in the precincts that the NYPD refers to as “Queens South.” These precincts cover southeast Queens, including the area from Queens Village through the Rockaways, Kew Gardens and Fresh Meadows. Shootings have also gone up 22.2 percent in those neighborhoods. Queens South is the only sector in the city that has seen an increase in homicides this year.

Legislators and the family members of victims have called for an end to the violence. Brown said he and southeast Queens elected officials met two weeks ago to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the situation.

“The nine-point plan is going to require city, state and federal cooperation,” said state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans). “That is what you see standing at this podium.”

The first three parts of the plan involve spreading education to the public: building a community coalition to speak against guns and violence, informing the community of gun buybacks, and creating a public relations campaign to encourage residents to report illegal guns and crimes. The plan also calls for legislation that limits gun access for criminals and those with mental illness as well as more enforcement of gun laws and resources for youth programs and services to help those with mental health or drug problems.

The remaining four goals of the plan are to increase trust between the police and residents, give more resources to precincts with a high violent crime rate, shut down illegal businesses that attract criminal activity and give more information to residents about programs and services that can help them.

“We’re going to do everything we can to eliminate illegal activity opportunities in our community,” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).

State Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) said that she was looking forward to working with youth as well as making sure illegal guns stop coming into New York.

“These young people are not bringing guns into the community,” Cook said. “We don’t own ships and we don’t own planes.”

The gun buyback will be held at Jerusalem Baptist Church, at 122-05 Smith St., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can turn in handguns, rifles and shotguns for a $200 bank card and $20 for BB guns and air pistols.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

More from Around New York