On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan aimed at putting an end to gun violence in the city, as residents recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and a year where gun violence levels have spiked.

The Safe Summer NYC plan has three focus areas for resource investment: community, cops, and the courts and justice system. According to de Blasio, it creates “real consequences for picking up a firearm” and disincentives to turning to crime by providing positive alternatives for young people.

The investment in communities will include:

  • Double Cure Violence workforce across 31 sites
  • Double Summer Youth Anti-Violence employment slots from 800 to 2000 during the summer and throughout the year 
  • Launch Operation Safe Parks and Gang-Free Zones — a partnership between the NYPD and community stakeholders — to provide safe, protected places for people to congregate free from violence and with peace-of-mind
  • Host Saturday Night Light games at 100 sites citywide
  • Completely refurbish 15 basketball courts at NYCHA developments by August, as well as four basketball courts and a new soccer pitch at Colonel Charles Young Park in Harlem by July
  • Increase Tip Rewards up to $5,000 Drive Community Engagement  
  • Hold anti-violence fairs in 30 neighborhoods across the city

For cops, the plan is to increase strategic and precise deployments in target areas and includes:

  • Precise police presence to prevent gun violence by targeting gangs and crews with a focus on the 100 blocks with the highest rates of gun violence
  • Enhance patrol strength ahead of summer by shifting approximately 200 officers from administrative assignments to key areas 
  • Strengthen federal partnerships embedded with NYPD to perform rapid tracing of firearms used in crimes and prevent the proliferation of illegal guns on city streets
  • Expand the Community Solutions Program, a strategy that uses community-based organizations, City services and NYPD response to connect community members to resources
  • Expand ShotSpotter by 8.78 square miles
  • Re-Launch Ceasefire, a program that uses credible messengers to deliver strong message to high-risk populations with goal of decreasing violence without increasing arrests and incarceration 
  • Launch a Gun Buyback Advertising Campaign 

In regards to the courts and justice system the plan includes:

  • Working with the courts to implement its comprehensive plan to expand in-person operations
  • Launch a collaboration between DAs, NYPD and MOCJ to mobilize resources focused on the most serious gun cases
  • Unveil the NYC Joint Force to End Gun Violence—composed of members of NYPD, Cure Violence providers, District Attorney offices, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, City agencies, local community groups and law enforcement organizations—to bring an individualized, sustained focus on likely shooters. The Joint Force will launch in Queens and soon expand citywide
  • Create enhanced services and supervision for pretrial defendants for gun possession cases, which must be matched by State action to support more people on parole across the city

De Blasio said Safe Summer NYC was the comprehensive roadmap to end gun violence and bring the city back stronger than ever.

“A recovery for all of us means every New Yorker is safe and feels safe in their neighborhood.”

Marchers rallied against the spike in gun violence in Crown Heights. Photo: Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez for BK Reader.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he had always focused resources on the drivers of crime, “which are the small number of individuals who are responsible for the shootings and killings on our streets.”

“Those are exactly the cases that will be prioritized to go to trial under this initiative – people who we believe have demonstrated a willingness to harm others, and who continue to pose an active risk to public safety.”

Councilmember Farah Louis, who represents Flatbush, said her community had already seen a recent spike in gun violence as summer approached. She said that would be exacerbated when outdoor activities resumed in backyards, parks and open streets.

Councilmember Farah Louis. Photo credit: farahlouis.com

“Our primary focus has always been to preempt gun violence by investing more resources in a community-centered approach while engaging our youth through summer youth employment,” she said.

“Safe Summer NYC is a practical plan that will help accelerate our city’s recovery while cultivating partnerships that will strengthen and protect our community.”

Borough President and mayoral hopeful Eric Adams said he applauded the investment to combat the violence that predominantly impacted Black and Brown New Yorkers, and said he supported shifting officers off of administrative assignments and onto patrol in high-crime neighborhoods, to tackle “the trafficking of illegal guns onto our streets, and supporting the successful Crisis Management System.”

He said the program was an important start and more needed to be done in the coming weeks to take on violent crime and the factors that fed it, including doubling summer employment opportunities for at-risk youth.

“Our ‘violence interrupters’ should be granted more centralized coordination for the essential work they do between different organizations throughout our city, including the NYPD and our hospitals where critical work can be done to prevent retaliatory shootings,” he said.

“And, as I have said, it is time to re-imagine and re-deploy the anti-crime unit — the unit that effectively but recklessly lowered crime in high-crime neighborhoods — as an anti-gun unit, adding officers who have the temperament and skills to find guns and violent criminals using intense and focused police work.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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