Life Camp, a Jamaica-based organization dedicated to ending gun violence in southeast Queens communities, received a visit from Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday to discuss the expansion of the city’s anti-violence Crisis Management System (CMS) to the 103rd Precinct, a program that now covers the 20 police precincts with the highest rates of gun violence.
The initiative is based on the nationally recognized Cure Violence model, a neighborhood-based, public-health approach to violence reduction.
“The most effective solutions come from the grassroots and create change beyond the power of government,” de Blasio said. “Cure Violence has empowered leaders from across our city to take control of their neighborhoods and rethink what it means to keep each other safe. What we are doing today will save lives and guarantee a safer and fairer New York for generations to come.”
The mayor said it was important to hear the voices of young people in southeast Queens.
“I heard from young people how often they felt they were not seen by our society, by our government, by our police,” de Blasio said. “They weren’t given their value. I heard the trauma that they lived with. It was very painful, but I also heard strong voices, strong voices filled with potential.”
CMS deploys teams of credible messengers, community members whose backgrounds allow them to connect with and motivate those at-risk, where they mediate conflicts on the street and connect high-risk individuals to services. These services include a year-round employment program, mental health services, and trauma counseling.
“We hear the cry in the streets. We understand and we see you,” Life Camp Executive Director Erica Ford said. “We know that the work must begin in changing mindsets and healing people and putting a system together that can do something different. We are here to take the job and stand in salute of peace.”
Researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice have found shooting victimizations fell by 28 percent across all CMS sites over the first 24 months following a site launch, compared to the 24 months prior to the launch. Gun injuries fell 33 percent.
“Our Cure Violence organizations have consistently led the emergency response to our community’s public safety and social service needs,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “Today’s announcement not only reflects the value of the work they have done on the ground to combat gun violence but the vital role they will now serve in aiding the city with helping our communities of color heal from the twin traumas of COVID and racial injustice.”
Researchers also found that CMS also increased trust in police and decreased residents’ reliance on violence to settle disputes.
“Our city is at a critical juncture and it is important that we put a system in place for change,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said. “The expansion of the Crisis Management System is an investment in the future of our communities. Increasing community-led measures to preemptively cure violence is a step in the right direction.”