City increasing NYPD presence in Harlem this weekend, launches new Violence Prevention Plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers the State of the City address on the Upper West Side, Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo by Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY)

The city will up NYPD presence at “hot spots” in Harlem beginning tonight and over the weekend in response to a slew of recent shootings, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.  

Last weekend, 64 people were shot across the five boroughs resulting in 10 deaths following a week-long spike in violent crime. Gun violence in the city shot up last month compared to the same time last year, with the NYPD reporting a 130% increase in shootings between June 1 and June 30. 

Officers will up their car and foot patrol efforts on 20 undisclosed streets across the neighborhood. The city is currently in talks with 50 Harlem-based community leaders on how to improve the community’s relationship with the police. The new grassroots approach will not only involve police resources but also efforts from community leaders, religious groups, community-based organizations and the cure violence movement crisis management team.

True change will depend on improving relationships between the police and Harlem’s young people, de Blasio said. 

“They have gone through so much in these last months, we need to reconnect with them, give them positive options and to hear them,” de Blasio said. As a first step, the city will host a youth town hall Harlem next week. Community organizations and the NYPD will also start hosting pop-up basketball “skills and drills” scrimmages. 

State senator Brian Benjamin, who represents Harlem, drove home the point that more police does mean more public safety. “It has been a rough couple of weeks… but a community-based approach where we have the police, the community, clergy and everybody on the street working together to protect our neighborhoods, that is key to our success.” 

De Blasio’s new Violence Prevention Plan will also provide young people with programming to improve the community, according to state Senator Benjamin also at the press conference. ” We’ve closed our streets, which is important, but we have to program them and give our community and our young people something productive to do,” said Benjamin, who represents Harlem. ” That level of investment sends a signal that we care.”

“It is important that our young people not only see Black Lives Matter signs and street murals but that they see Black lives on the streets loving and supporting Black lives.” 

CEO of Street Corner Resouces, Iesha Sekou, also at the press conference, added that the organization will station violence interrupters at 143rd and Lenox Avenue where two shootings took place on the 4th of July in order to help de-escalate future conflict. 

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