Councilman Jumaane Williams gets a thumbs up from an onlooker during the city's announcement of a new multi-million dollar anti-gun violence initiative. Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
New York City is prepared to commit $12.7 million to draw down gun violence in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods.
Standing behind a mural at the Harlem Hospital Center on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined elected and agency leaders to announce what they described as a community-based, grassroots effort to curb local shootings.
"This is a comprehensive approach – that’s what we believe in," de Blasio said. "It aims to prevent violence in close coordination with a host of other public safety strategies and policing strategies, but in a sense to get this stopped before the police even have to become involved."
Using programs and models developed in five neighborhoods, including what was described as crime "interrupters" who overcome their own troubled pasts to intervene potential conflicts, 14 precincts are slated to adopt practices that officials and community members hope will improve police and community relations.
Those precincts were described as the source for 51 percent of all shootings reported by the New York City Police Department in 2014.
"For any public policy or for any effort to be successful — to be effective — it needs to be inclusive," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "And that means that government itself cannot solve a problem, we all have a responsibility as community members to be involved, to be engaged."
Along with community groups, the plan is includes a cross-agency effort that includes the health, education and police departments is expected to offer mediation, mental health and employment services.
While Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was not at the announcement, Assistant Chief Brian J. Conroy of Community Affairs said the department was committed to the holistic approach.
"The police have, obviously, an important role in reducing gun violence from an enforcement angle." Conroy said. "But we need to work together with all of our city agencies, all of our community groups to build that trust in the neighborhood to continue to reduce violence."
The question of how fast the program can kick off still unclear, however. Funding for groups that don't already have existing relationships or experience with the precincts will take longer to process, but the mayor said those with existing contracts with the city "pretty much can get the funding immediately."
The administration is still looking for partners, de Blasio admitted, but said the city will find them.
"New York City is blessed, for decades, with a history of youth-oriented organizations, youth workers," he said. "We think we’re going to be able to find good partners in each of these neighborhoods."
Precincts participating in gun violence reduction initiative
23rd Precinct: East Harlem, South Manhattan 32nd Precinct: North Harlem, Manhattan 40th Precinct: South Bronx 44th Precinct: East Concourse-Concourse Village, Bronx 46th Precinct: University Heights-Morris Heights, Bronx 47th Precinct: Eastchester-Edenwald-Baychester, Bronx 60th Precinct: Seagate-Coney Island, Brooklyn 67th Precinct: East Flatbush-Farragut, Brooklyn 73rd Precinct: Brownsville, Brooklyn 75th Precinct: East New York-Pennsylvania Ave, Brooklyn 101st Precinct: Far Rockaway, Queens 113th Precinct: South Jamaica, Queens 114th Precinct: Queensbridge-Ravenswood-LIC, Queens 120th Precinct: North Shore, Staten Island