At a gun violence roundtable in the Fordham Manor in the Bronx on Saturday, Mayor Eric Adams pledged to coordinate city agencies to work with gun violence prevention groups.
During the conversation, which was organized after an 11-month-old was shot earlier this week and took place the afternoon after a police officer was fatally shot on the job in Harlem, Adams solicited advice from various crisis management groups in the Bronx — many of which raised bureaucratic hurdles as a real obstacle to their work. Adams promised to help facilitate conversations among his commissioners around how to work with and get resources to grassroots organizations.
“If we open and unlock agencies to you, you’re gonna see a different game. That’s the power — the power is in the agencies,” Adams said.
A staff member for one violence interruption program explained the need to reduce bureaucracy around funding in order to build capacity.
“Sometimes the need doesn’t always match getting the funds to the organization so that they’re able to hire as quickly as it’s needed,” said Hailey Nolasco, the director of the Community-Based Violence Prevention program at the Center for Court Innovation.
Jessica Mofield, executive director of the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, echoed the budgeting critique, suggesting that the city’s funding model should rely less on reimbursement. She also recommended that anti-violence organizations work more closely with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to expand grants that would help families of the victims of gun violence to move when they’re in an unsafe environment.
A Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence staff member asked about the city’s efforts to combat gun smuggling and raised concerns over the mayor’s plan to reinstate the NYPD’s plain-clothes unit.
“We have a lot of people carrying in the street… Are these cops being trained on how to approach individuals? Or are they just jumping out?” the organizer asked, suggesting that violence interrupter organizations could play a role in designing training for the NYPD on how to diffuse a situation around illegal firearm possession.
In response, Adams doubled down on his plans to bring back plainclothes police units that has historically been associated with the stop-and-frisk era and excessive force complaints. He claimed that the unit will be different under his administration in its use of “precision policing” to identify the gang members.
“Policing is both omnipresence — the blue and white — and it’s also unpredictable. If all you had is blue and white vehicles out there, the bad guys are gonna have one jump on you. That’s just the reality of public safety,” he said.
In line with the mayor’s vision about inter-agency collaboration, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson cited the crisis management organizations that embed in schools. Gibson suggested that while she has been working with Schools Chancellor David Banks on expanding this model and even extending it to elementary schools.
“I would argue that it’s even more important to start, as Pastor G has said, at the elementary school level, because we know sometimes it’s further exacerbated by the time you get to middle school,” Gibson said.
As for Friday night’s deadly shooting in Harlem, a second wounded officer continues to fight for his life, Adams said at a post-roundtable press briefing.
“We need New Yorkers to pray for the well-being of this officer, that we should all be proud of,” Adams said, per NY1. “The medical diagnosis, I think we should leave it up to the doctors, but he’s fighting for his life right now.”
Watch the entire roundtable below:
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 22, 2022
With reporting by Robert Pozarycki