Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced the expansion of a program to combat gun violence in the city and says the effort will soon be rolling out to East Harlem, Morris Heights, Coney Island, Brownsville and Far Rockaway. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Young residents of Harlem want the members of the community to stop killing each other.
"You get the programs for the kids, none of this would be going on, none of this," said one resident. "They wouldn't be hanging on the corner stores. None of that."
Just a few blocks away, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to address those concerns.
"If we can stop violence even before it begins to take shape, that is the best thing we can do, not only for our communities, but for the people who protect our communities."
With shootings on the rise this year, up 12 percent, the mayor on Wednesday said the city would make a $13 million investment in an anti-gun initiative aimed at stopping violence before it starts.
It goes beyond police patrolling the streets. City Hall will send "violence interrupters" into high-crime areas, workers from community organizations, many with on-the-ground experience in gangs.
"This is a fundamental shift on how we're dealing with gun violence," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn.
The program is already in five precincts, seen on the map at left in yellow. It will be expanded out to all of the blue neighborhoods, 14 in total.
These communities will get social programming, job training, even mental health services.
It's already in place in Harlem.
"I would take the opportunity," said one resident. "It would be a nice experience, something to get off, off of this."
These 14 precincts account for more than 50 percent of all the shootings across the city, so the mayor says honing in on these areas is how we tackle that crime rate.
Police Commissioner William Bratton did not attend the mayor's announcement, but the mayor's support for his top brass was quite clear, as he slammed a report alleging he favored the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"This is ludicrous. It's inappropriate. It's idiotic," de Blasio said. "I'm kind of sick of this notion of, let's make everything about personalities and conflict. We are blessed to have Bill Bratton as our commissioner."
Bratton, according to the mayor, supports this new program's expansion.