On the same day she announced that 19-year-old Dajuan Williams was indicted on murder charges for allegedly firing the gun that killed Guedelia Vallinas near the Woodside Houses in March, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz hailed City Hall’s latest plan to combat gun violence in the five boroughs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that the new “NYC Joint Force to End Gun Violence” will soon be launched in Queens before it is expanded citywide.
“As we move forward to reopen our great city, one of our top priorities must be putting an end to the scourge of gun violence,” Katz said on Tuesday, April 20. “We need to be vigilant in our pursuit of the shooter and the drivers of gun violence and at the same time keep guns out of the hands of our young people. We need to keep the guns too easily purchased elsewhere — in states such as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia — out of our city.”
The gun violence initiative will shift 200 NYPD officers to hotspots as part of the annual Summer All Out program, according to the mayor — double the Cure Violence workforce across 31 sites citywide — and launch safe parks and gang-free zones.
“Effective strategies for protecting our communities must be multifaceted and the mayor has put forth a wide-ranging plan that calls for investing in our communities and our young people with Cure Violence and other programs that have proven to be effective in reducing crime and violence,” Katz said. “The safest borough is one where we work with our young people to make sure they never become part of the criminal justice system.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said it is no longer enough to interrupt gun violence as it happens.
“Keeping our families safe and streets secure requires a proactive, hands-on approach with our youth — actively engaging our families with numerous opportunities for employment and personal enrichment that our historically underserved communities have sought for years,” Richards said. “Safe Summer NYC represents a significant step toward a future where our neighborhoods are gun and gang free, and we look forward to working with our city and community partners to make that a reality.”
Elected officials across the borough said there is a sense of urgency to act against gun violence, especially as the weather gets warmer.
“No one wants to see last summer repeat itself, and this plan is a step in the right direction to prevent gun violence in our streets,” Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers said. “I’m particularly excited about the investments and expansions in cure violence and the increase in Summer Youth Anti Violence Employment slots, which have proven to work across different neighborhoods in my district. We know that investing in communities works, and I look forward to the full implementation of the Safe Summer plan.”
Councilman I. Daneek Miller noted that the youth programs in targeted areas would be a key strategy.
“Leading up to the summer months, it’s important that we are doing all that we can to engage our youth and provide proactive solutions to stemming the tide of gun violence,” Miller said. “We know what works and what doesn’t, and I am grateful for the city’s commitment to investing in violence interrupter programs, enrichment opportunities and targeted enforcement where appropriate. I look forward to working with our local groups here in southeast Queens and across the city on this crucially important initiative.”