April 21, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a new plan Tuesday that will add more cops in high crime areas as a means to combat gun violence.
The announcement comes at a time when the number of shootings continues to spike across the city and New Yorkers have been calling for the mayor to clamp down on it. For the month of March 2021, there were 492 gun arrests citywide, a 66.8 percent increase compared to March 2020, according to the NYPD.
The plan, dubbed Safe Summer NYC, involves shifting about 200 officers from administrative assignments to patrols in high crime areas. In addition the program aims to strengthening rapid tracing efforts for guns used in crimes; raise awareness for the city’s gun buyback campaign; and re-launch a program—called Ceasefire– that aims to deescalate gang tensions through “credible messengers.”
“A recovery for all of us means every New Yorker is safe and feels safe in their neighborhood,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “Safe Summer NYC is the comprehensive roadmap to end gun violence and bring our city back stronger than ever.”
The plan also calls on the police to target gangs—particularly on the 100 blocks with the highest gun violence rates. It also aims to build a bridge between police and young people.
“Our plan involves precision policing, the application of technology, partnerships with other City agencies, and a focus on youth. But the core of it is in the neighborhood policing philosophy: cops and community working together to curb violence,” said NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison.
The NYPD plans to offer young people alternatives to crime, including increasing the number of summer youth anti-violence jobs from 800 to 2,000; hosting “Saturday Night Light” basketball games across 100 sites; holding anti-violence fairs in 30 neighborhoods; and refurbishing basketball courts at 15 NYCHA developments by August.
Crime tip rewards will also be doubled to $5,000, and launching “gang-free zones” to allow people to congregate safely.
“It’s not 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,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.
Another component to the plan includes the NYC Joint Force to End Gun Violence, which brings the NYPD, District Attorney offices, the Mayor’s office and other groups to identify “likely shooters” to monitor. The program will be launched in Queens before expanding to other boroughs.
“We must focus law enforcement efforts on those who prey on our most vulnerable, the gun traffickers and the drivers of gun violence and violent crimes, but we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
“Effective strategies for protecting our communities must be multi-faceted 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.”
The plan drew praise from several council members who represent Queens districts.
Francisco Moya, who represents District 21, says that New Yorkers should not have to worry about their safety.
“With Black and Latino communities disproportionately affected by gun violence, my hope is that the Mayor’s Safe Summer NYC plan is a stepping stone to combat violence in New York City,” Moya said.
Council member Selvena Brooks-Power, who represents District 31, said that she believes the city’s plan to more than double the number of the summer youth jobs makes a lot of sense.
“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,” Brooks-Powers said.