For their efforts to keep the peace without requiring police intervention, the leaders of several crisis management and violence interrupter organizations received recognition from Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday.
On Dec. 28, the outgoing mayor presented proclamations to several group leaders and spoke about their efforts to prevent and stop the rise of violent crimes across the city.
Mayor de Blasio’s son, Dante de Blasio was in attendance during the press conference and spoke to his own new-found interest and involvement with violence interrupters in the city.
“Violence interrupters are street outreach workers who do everything from de-escalating violent situations to offering job services to those at risk of violence or engaging in violence,” said Dante de Blasio, who also worked on producing a series of videos about the program and its leaders. “I spoke with violence interrupters and was so struck by their tenacity in the face of adversity.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City and other major cities across the nation have seen a spike in violent crime. The intention of violence interrupters is to assist those who are in immediate danger of violent crimes – by using techniques of de-escalation – while providing a community-based alternative to policing.
Programs like Save Our Streets (SOS) and Cure Violence work to find non-violent solutions for violent situations, including de-escalation during assault and robbery. violence interruption programs also work to find alternative lifestyle choices and opportunities for those who may be at risk for engaging in crime.
“I was also really struck by some of the conversations with police officers about violence interrupters,” said the mayor’s son. “They are often able to work together and I find that many of the officers are appreciative of these services because they are intended to be preventative. Because they are trying to make sure these acts don’t occur in the first place.”
The mayor agreed with his son, stating during the press conference that investing in these programs would be some of “the best money we ever spend.”
Since the Crisis Management System was established in 2014, $300 million have been allocated to over 40 communities within all five boroughs, particularly to communities most affected by gun violence.
Mayor de Blasio also announced that the Biden Administration is earmarking $20 million toward bolstering community programs that combat neighborhood violence. He also stated that, as of Tuesday, his office would be focusing on the permanent formalization of the Office for Neighborhood Safety, which he said would continue to work with communities to prevent and minimize violent crime.
When presenting the awards to a select few leaders of various violence prevention groups, the mayor acknowledged that often their work goes unnoticed or unappreciated by the general public, but is still incredibly integral.
“Too often you have been unsung heroes, today we are singing your praises,” said Mayor de Blasio as he presented the proclamation documents. “You are doing sacred work, and it is making a huge difference.”
A.T Mitchell, founder and CEO of Man Up — a violence prevention program based in Brooklyn — spoke of his pride and gratefulness of receiving the honor.
“Today we have made history again,” said Mitchell. “We put our lives on the line, and often our work goes unnoticed. But today I think it is a good day, because we can honestly say that we are being recognized on the highest level.”