NEW YORK (AP) — The city, responding to a recent spike in shootings, is expanding a community outreach program designed to help its most violence-plagued neighborhoods.
The plan involves several city agencies and, at times, will enlist ex-gang members to act as mediators in crisis situations. It's meant to combat a worrisome rise in gun violence even as overall crime continues to decrease in the nation's largest city.
Shootings up are 12 percent this year over last, and 14 of the city's 77 police precincts are responsible for 51 percent of the city's shootings, New York Police Department statistics show.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday in announcing the $12.7 million expansion of the new crisis management system from five precincts to 14 that city officials know "where to pinpoint our efforts."
"This grassroots effort, this effort to reach people, especially young people ... is going to have a profound effect," de Blasio said.
The so-called Cure Violence model aims to empower community organizations to defuse potentially troublesome situations before they erupt into violence. De Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who are Democrats, said the plan will put an emphasis on mental health and install anti-gun ads in neighborhoods plagued with violence.
The city also will partner with existing social-services groups to deploy people, often those who have escaped violent pasts, to act as liaisons between people seen as risks to commit violent acts and government agencies that could help.
Mark-Viverito said everyone has a responsibility as a community member to be "involved and engaged."
"Gun violence devastates some communities more than others," she said during a news conference at a Harlem hospital. "We can permanently change attitudes there about gun violence."
Similar concepts exist in other cities, including the Operation Cease Fire program in Boston.
Overall, major crime in New York is down 3.3 percent from a year ago. The number of murders citywide is 174, according to NYPD statistics through Aug. 3, the most recent date available, which is a 9.4 percent drop from 192 during the same period last year.