De Blasio Administration, City Council Expand Citywide Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence, Launch Gun Violence Crisis Management System

August 13, 2014

City invests $12.7 million to expand comprehensive, neighborhood-based strategy to prevent gun violence to reach 14 precincts accounting for 51 percent of shootings in New York City

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced the expansion of the City’s efforts to reduce gun violence, through the creation of the “Gun 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, anti-violence 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 Mayor and Speaker were joined by Council members, administration officials, along with advocates at today’s announcement.  

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 Mayor Bill 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 high-need 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,” said Speaker Melissa 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. I thank the de Blasio administration for partnering with the Council on this important initiative to make our city even safer and for their continued efforts to permanently eradicate gun violence in our city.”

“Today’s initiative recognizes that reducing gun violence calls on every one of us and requires using every proven method at our disposal, whether it is neighbors reinforcing that violence is not acceptable, or ‘credible messengers’ de-escalating disputes or schools tutoring kids who are failing, or cops walking a beat and engaging in neighborhoods,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer. “At the heart of every strategy, is the strong research and practice that shows that when crime goes down when people are treated with respect and their voices are heard.

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 anti-violence 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.

With today’s expansion, cure violence will reach the following precincts: East Harlem, South Manhattan (23rd Precinct); North Harlem, Manhattan (32nd Precinct); South Bronx (40th Precinct); East Concourse-Concourse Village, Bronx (44th Precinct); University Heights-Morris Heights, Bronx (46th Precinct); Eastchester-Edenwald-Baychester, Bronx (47th Precinct);
Seagate-Coney Island, Brooklyn (60th Precinct); East Flatbush-Farragut, Brooklyn (67th Precinct); Brownsville, Brooklyn (73rd Precinct); East New York-Pennsylvania Ave, Brooklyn (75th Precinct); Far Rockaway, Queens (101st Precinct); South Jamaica, Queens (113th Precinct); Queensbridge-Ravenswood-LIC, Queens (114th Precinct); and North Shore, Staten Island (120th Precinct).

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of on 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.

“As co-chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, I would like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their support in expanding this anti-gun violence initiative to the neighborhoods that need it most. Preventing shootings cannot be left to policing tactics alone, so for the past three years, the task force has worked to combat gun violence using a multi-pronged approach involving all city agencies, community members and violence-interrupter groups. Though New York has experienced gun violence in ebbs and flows, today’s expansion is an important step toward making a serious impact in this city,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader, co-chair of the Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.

“We welcome this great news, because when it comes down to public safety anything that can be done is significant. This initiative is indeed complementary to our current efforts to scale down crime. Enabling community organizations by bringing in resources to offer intensive services is an integral approach to reduce gun violence,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Co-chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.

“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 New York 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. 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.”

“I have supported and advocated for the Anti-Gun Violence Initiative since before I joined the City Council, and I celebrate the increased investment that will allow this program to expand to affected communities, including Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Anti-Gun Violence uses community-based, research driven strategies to decrease violence and to address its individual and community impacts. In contrast to the city’s reliance on stop-and-frisk, growing the Anti-Gun Violence Initiative ends the clear, powerful message that it is better and more effective to work in partnership with community members than to violate residents constitutional rights in the hope that it will lead to increased safety,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy.

“Supporting a range of creative strategies that will make our streets and communities safer for New Yorkers throughout our City, this year we have been successful in funding a record number of anti-gun violence initiatives covering 18 communities and increasing the City’s financial commitment by more than 250 percent, to $12 million,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “This unprecedented level of support includes a $1 million commitment for the 44th Precinct and funding for anti-gun violence initiatives in the 42nd Precinct, my Bronx district as well. This will make our community safer for thousands of New York’s families, and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues for their support.” 

“I am proud that we, as a council, have been able to put more funding in place to help prevent gun violence and expand resources in the communities that need this critical support. However, the reality of gun violence saddens me, and I live for the day when we’ll only need to implement funding for programs that enrich and enhance us as a people as opposed to fighting crime,” said Council Member Andy King.

“The anti-gun violence initiative will be instrumental in reducing crime not only in my district, but also in nine other resource starved communities in New York City. I am proud to stand with the de Blasio administration and my colleagues in the Council to expand New York City’s anti-gun violence initiative on behalf of residents in Far Rockaway. This $6 million allocation will provide the means to combat crime, improve quality of life, and revitalize their neighborhoods,” said Council Member Donovan Richards.  

“The expansion of the Anti-Gun Violence Initiative to Coney Island and Marlboro is a clear signal that we are taking a zero tolerance approach to the violence that is plaguing our community and will not accept it as the status quo. We are also recognizing that violence is often the symptom of a larger problem that requires counseling, job training, education, mediation, mental health services, and increased enforcement to end this longstanding issue,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “My thanks to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Co-Chairs Williams and Cabrera, the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative and everyone else involved in this effort for their unwavering dedication to the safety our residents. This is a significant step towards ensuring that every New Yorker can walk down their street without the threat of violence hanging over them.”

“The recent spate of gun violence illustrates the need for programs such as the City Council’s cure violence initiative. Our existing cure violence program has made strides in keeping our neighborhoods safe with trained violence interrupters, conflict mediation, credible messengers and other proven tools. The initiative is one of the many resources we have to defuse gun violence and other volatile situations, and I’m pleased that this City Council Initiative will deliver additional resources to communities where they are needed. I will aggressively continue to work toward seeking solutions to gun violence in the community,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

“The cure violence program model has been introduced into some of the most challenging neighborhoods in Baltimore under the name Safe Streets,” said Daniel Webster, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.  “Our research showed that the program reduced gun violence in three of the four neighborhoods where it was implemented.” Webster’s research also found correlations between conflicts mediated by the program and homicide reductions and evidence that the program reduced the acceptance of using guns to settle disputes.

“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 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.”

“The Department of Probation is proud to be a leader in the movement toward community-based justice programs that are focused on providing people with the tools they need to break the cycle of violence,” said Commissioner Ana Bermudez. “We look forward to working with the City Council, our partners in City government, and the non-profit sector to engage at-risk New Yorkers and connect them to resources that address their needs and build on their strengths.”

“Every city struggles to implement the best, most cost-effective public safety policies. I’m proud that our efforts will be guided by research and evaluation evidence,” said Jeff Butts, Director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

“Though violent crime has plummeted in recent years, there are still far too many New Yorkers who live in daily fear of gun violence. I applaud the Mayor and the City Council for directing resources to the neighborhoods that need them the most: those where gunshots still ring out all too frequently. This bold, new approach, which takes a holistic view to fighting crime, will keep residents and families safe,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito for expanding the cure violence program citywide, especially in the 67th and 73rd Precincts in Brooklyn, where we have seen a rise in shootings this year. 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.

“We welcome any collaboration that looks to reduce violence by examining the issues that cause it and then working to stop violence at its root. This is an excellent means of breaking the cycle of violence that will make the Bronx, and the city as a whole, safer for all its inhabitants,” said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

“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.

“I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio on his proactive approach to curbing violence in our communities. I am in favor of any initiative that makes Staten Island’s streets safer for its law-abiding citizens. We must all work together to fight crime to ensure a brighter future for our youth,” said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.

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