Last month New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly responded to grumbling about police tactics with a rant about people of color lacking concern with violence in their communities. While the recent flurry of homicides in communities of color has made controversial practices like stop-and-frisk politically tenable for some, community-friendly initiatives to decrease crime have not benefited from the same support, Colorlines noted. Some politicians are hoping to change that.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith, one of the co-conceivers of Operation SNUG, a city- and state-funded anti-gun violence initiative, told the AmNews, “A comprehensive plan needs to be employed and deployed in all five boroughs. SNUG and Ceasefire Chicago have been so successful minimizing gun violence, the state and city should probably support a SNUG program in each borough in the high crime areas. There has to be one plan that all the five boroughs agree to.”
These programs rely on community involvement, coordination with police and “violence interrupters” – people who usually have turned away from gang life and whose mission is to “persuade people to choose peace when conflict erupts.”
Traditionally, Smith said, “political decisions” have determined where programs and funds are allocated. “But given the severity of the problem, I have put out a public call asking the commissioner and mayor to declare a state of emergency and hold a meeting with political leadership, community leadership and clergy leadership, where we can discuss and decide a standard practice, where everyone is working on the same page.”
State Sen. Eric Adams has criticized both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD for not acknowledging the role that the programs have played.
In Brooklyn, Adams said, “The mayor has said that New York is the safest city in the country, not acknowledging the various anti-violence groups, taking all the credit, saying that they did it all by themselves. And so now, with these recent 70-plus shootings, they—the mayor and the NYPD—must take the blame.”