City Expands Pgm. to Curb Gun Violence

Local Pcts. Join Neighborhood-Based Strategy

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the expansion of the city’s efforts to reduce gun violence, through the creation of theGun Violence Crisis Management System,” a citywide initiative to reduce gun violence, from five to 14 precincts accounting for 51 percent of shootings across the city.

The new initiative expands on a previous system that includes and is centered around the “cure violence” model and now includes “wrap around” services, programs that respond to meet the needs of every spectrum in the community that is impacted by gun violence. This new strategy employs evidence-based community interventions, antiviolence messaging, and support services in areas with high rates of gun violence, and will be driven by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Departments of Education, Health and Mental Hygiene, Probation and Youth and Community Development, and the City University of New York.

The local precincts participating in the program include the 75th Precinct in East New York; the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica; and the 114th Precinct in Astoria and Long Island City.

The cure violence model, an evidence-based public health approach, identifies and engages individuals most likely to be involved in gun violence and deploys interventions aimed at curbing that behavior before it occurs, including retaliatory shootings. The project employs “violence interrupters,” typically former gang members who have turned their lives around, to quell street disputes-intervening before escalation to gun violence- and links potential shooters to case management and supportive services.

“While New York remains the safest big city in the nation and crime has continued to drop citywide, gun violence remains a challenge,” said de Blasio. “With this initiative, we are creating a focused effort incorporating mental health services, legal services, after-school programs-using models of proven success and targeting the communities where nearly half of the city’s shootings occur-into our effort to reduce gun violence and create a safer New York.”

“What started out as a City Council pilot program in five highneed communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island, has now been expanded to provide comprehensive violence prevention and de-escalation services in 10 more at-risk neighborhoods,” added Mark-Viverito. “By focusing on the communities with the highest levels of shootings and working with those at-risk for committing violence, the city’s Crisis Management System will be able to prevent shootings before they happen and help save lives..”

This $12.7 million initiative- funded jointly by the de Blasio administration and the City Council-expands the cure violence system and will bring together six city agencies to support:

– Creation of an organization to oversee the city’s efforts, chaired by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, that will include city agencies and providers to ensure coordination of programming and services; and continued support of research to ensure program effectiveness and accountability.

– Expansion and addition of “wrap around,” community-based preventive services, such as job training, mental health and legal services, which will increase the likelihood of long-term violence reduction.

– Establishment of school-based conflict mediation and anti-violence programs, including the Match program, which provides daily tutoring in Algebra to high school students, and which random-control trials have demonstrated reduction in violence by 44 percent-while improving academic performance by three grades.

– Establishment of an antiviolence program training academy to train neighborhood-based anti-gun violence providers to ensure consistency and fidelity to the effective models of community based anti-violence work.

– Development of community messaging and educational materials to reinforce community norms against gun violence, similar to successful campaigns promoting seatbelt use and against smoking.

The announcement comes on the heels of the addition of 100 Summer Youth Employment jobs for young people engaged in the cure violence program, and builds on the work of the City Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, and the resulting $4.8 million initiative launched by the Council in Staten Island, the South Bronx, East New York, South Jamaica, Queens and Harlem.

“Every New Yorker should feel safe in their home, on the streets, and in their neighborhood, and together with the administration, we are taking a stand to end gun violence in New York City,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “This significant increase in funding will provide educational programming and services that will stop gun violence before it happens in our communities.”

“Preventing gun violence before it occurs has always been a priority of the New York City Council,” he continued. “Bringing the initiative to the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the country, shows the Council’s commitment to ending this epidemic and making our neighborhoods safer.”

“The safety and security of our students is our most important priority. We work closely with the mayor and across city agencies to reduce gun violence, so our children can focus on learning in the classroom and laying the educational foundation for brighter futures,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. “We are pleased to join the mayor’s new initiative, which uses collaborative, innovative, and research-based strategies that engage and support families across the city and will lead to safer schools and a safer New York.”

“Despite dramatic declines in firearm injuries in New York City, firearms persist as a leading cause of premature death among young men of color,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “This is a serious but preventable public health problem. The expansion of City Council’s Anti-Gun Violence Initiative will help address this issue by working with the community to move neighborhoods away from accepting violence as a way of life, encourage high risk youth to approach conflicts non-violently and make other positive life choices, and stop the cycles of violence.”

“The community groups that we work are on the front lines in many of the neighborhoods ravaged by gun violence. They keep young people safe and engaged in positive activities. This new initiative will build on and amplify those efforts,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong.

“HHC has been a leader in developing hospital-based violence interruption programs in response to the devastating effects of gun shots, stabbings and assaults that are too familiar to our dedicated emergency room care teams,” said HHC President Dr. Ram Raju. With our ‘Guns Down Life Up’ message and strong neighborhood partners that work with Harlem Hospital and in HHC hospitals in Brooklyn and the Bronx, we are bridging public safety and public health to build healthier communities. We hope to link even more HHC hospitals with the new cure violence community programs.”

“It’s time for all of us to go beyond reacting to senseless gun violence and try to prevent it in the first place. We must make our neighborhoods safe and redirect our youth onto a better path, and this new initiative is a big step in the right direction,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and her colleagues for their collaborative efforts in funding the expansion of this important anti-gun violence initiative. While prosecuting gun violence cases has been a longstanding priority of my office, reducing gun violence before it occurs is equally important. Today’s initiative will go a long way toward achieving that goal,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

More from Around New York