Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gathered with members of the Brooklyn Clergy-NYPD Task Force Thursday to discuss the borough's murder rate, which has declined since the 1990s but still has a ways to go according to community leaders. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stopped Thursday to look at pictures of the more than 500 people killed on the streets of the city last year.
"It is not just statistics, this is human beings, flesh and blood, most of them young men of color," said Kelly
The photos send a loud message for black clergy who joined the commissioner: stop the violence, especially black-on-black crime.
"We have killed more black people than the Ku Klux Klan ever killed, and it is time for us to put an end to it," said Bishop A.D. Lyons of the First Baptist Church.
The police commissioner notes that although 500 murders are too many, murder is way down from where it was in the 1990s. In an effort to keep pushing crime down in Brooklyn, the NYPD formed the Brooklyn Clergy-NYPD Task Force in 2010.
Members say the partnership has made a difference. Churches, for example, are involved in hosting gun buyback programs.
"That resulted in the surrender of 625 weapons,” said Kelly. “Each gun may well represent at least one life saved, guns that were not used to kill more young men."
The commissioner said that last year, for the first time since the 1960s, murders in Brooklyn fell below 200.
"We are elated that crime is down, but we have a lot of work to do. So we are going to roll up our sleeves in the near future and work even harder so that one day we can come before you and say there’s zero murders in the city of New York," said Bishop Gerald Seabrooks of the Rehoboth Cathedral.
"Now we’re reaching out to young guys and young girls that’s interested in gangs to prevent from going that way," said Bishop Willie Billups of Faith, Hope and Charity House of God.
The clergy members say next month they hope to meet with gangs in Brownsville. At the same time, they say they will try to bring in employers, training programs and schools to offer opportunities to those who are willing to put down the guns and stop the violence.
They also say authorities have to find a way to stop the guns from getting into the city in the first place and ending up in the hands of young people.