Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams has welcomed the launch of the Mayor’s Office to prevent gun violence.
Housed within the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the new Office will oversee an expansion of effective, innovative violence intervention strategies.
The city is investing US$22.5 million this fiscal year, split between the administration and the City Council. In the future, the administration is investing $16 million annually, the Mayor’s Office.
Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, thanked his Council colleagues Fernando Cabrera, Laurie Cumbo and Vanessa Gibson for their work on this issue.
“This announcement is amazing,” Williams said. “Mayor Bill de Blasio kept his word; and, on this issue, got it right.”
He said that, when he met with the mayor while he was then Public Advocate, Williams said he shared with him his future endeavors, adding that gun violence was a major part of what they spoke about.
“For too long, the only people we sent to these communities were police officers,” Williams said. “That was unfair to the police, and was unfair to the people they supposedly came to serve.
“It’s been hard to change that message; but, with my colleagues in government, we have really turned the ship,” he added. “We have begun to change the dynamic of what public safety means, and who is responsible for it, and that is critical.
In 2012, Williams said he and Cabrera published a report on how to approach the gun violence epidemic in the City, “and almost everything that was in there has come to fruition, thanks to the support of the mayor, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Council.”
In that report, Williams said they wrote about inter-agency communication, jobs “and things that were happening in those communities.
“The fundamental message is that we have to continue to push the idea forward that police is not the only answer,” he said. “They are a part of the solution; and, while these communities do ask for police, they also ask for jobs, housing and better education. We have to respond to those asks as well.
“This mayor embraced all that we said could work,” he added. “The creation of this office is historic, and is shining a light across this country, where there is a president trying to shine darkness.”
The mayor said when he talks with people across the city, “it’s clear that New Yorkers in every neighborhood are united in their desire for safe streets.
“Law enforcement is critical in reducing gun violence, but we also need to change a culture in which conflicts too often escalate to shootings,” said de Blasio in launching the initiative. “We are inviting all New Yorkers to become our partners in this fight. “Together, we can make it clear that gun violence has no place in New York City.”
He noted that 2016 was the safest year on record in New York City history.
He said the Office to Prevent Gun Violence — along with neighborhood policing — will enable the city to further reduce crime.
“I’m grateful to the effort from law enforcement, the Mayor, the Council, and most importantly our local communities who continue to work collectively with us to keep our neighborhoods safe,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
“We are excited to join the mayor in announcing the creation of the Office to Prevent Gun Violence,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are thankful for the mayor’s commitment to expand the Cure Violence program, which the Health Department has been implementing with community partners for the last four years.
“This office allows for sustained action and strong interagency and community collaboration to keep New Yorkers safe,” she added.