NEW YORK - While crime in many categories is down, gun violence continues to rise in New York City. There was a wild shootout on the Deegan Expressway over the weekend. In another incident, a mother of two was killed by a stray bullet. Now as the city tries to recover from the pandemic, there are growing concerns public safety fears slow it down.
"It's not fair, this is hard to live with so I'm calling on all the judges, please, you have to stop releasing criminals that are charged with guns," Eve Hendricks said.
Hendricks is the mother of murdered high school basketball star Brandon Hendricks She made that plea at a press conference that brought together victims' families with the city's five major police unions. They believe the bail reform that took effect in January 2020 is the primary driver behind the rise in shootings.
"Over 2,000 people have been shot in New York City, and there have been over 500 murders. Police officers are putting their lives on the line, and making record gun arrests," said Paul Di Giacomo, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association.
The NYPD's most recent 2021 statistics through March 7 reveal that shootings are up 41.8% and shooting victims have increased by 37% compared to the same period in 2020. Mayor Bill de Blasio says public safety is not just the job of law enforcement.
"Policing matters but the work of community members matter crucially and it needs to be elevated and uplifted," de Blasio said. "It needs to be more a part of the solution."
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To that end, the mayor announced he is authorizing a pilot program of the Advanced Peace Model, put forward by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. The focus is on diverting at-risk youth from gun violence, Williams said.
"The Advanced Peace Model is an important step in our efforts to reduce violence in the city, helps create a deeper level of mentorship with our violence interrupters," Williams said.
The public advocate said the pilot program will incentivize nonviolent behavior and use metrics to chart the progress of youth at risk for gun violence.
De Blasio said the program is scheduled to begin this July in five NYPD precincts — one in each borough.