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NYPD 'Ceasefire' program reduces gang killings and violence, officials say

The initiative has been underway since 2014.

An NYPD program is being credit with reducing

An NYPD program is being credit with reducing gang violence in the city. Photo Credit: Theodore Parisienne

A special NYPD initiative aimed at cutting down gang killings and related violence appears to have made some headway, reducing homicides and shootings in 2017 by larger percentages in affected precincts compared to the rest of New York City, officials told Newsday.

Known as “Ceasefire,” the program has been underway since 2014 in the city and has now spread to 24 NYPD commands, including precincts and three public housing areas in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

For 2017, the last year for which complete statistics are available, homicides were down 21.21 percent and shootings down 24.28 percent in those areas, compared with a reduction of 13.4 percent in killings and a drop of 20.7 percent in shootings citywide, NYPD officials said. The numbers for 2018 weren’t available.

“It works,” said Assistant Chief Michael Lipetri, who coordinates the Ceasefire initiative in the office of Chief of Department Terence Monahan. “It is a small part of a strategy used by the department to suppress violence in the most violent command.”

Locally, the initiative resulted from a concept developed at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lipetri said. A version of the idea has been used in other cities, including in Chicago. A study there released in 2012 found noticeable increases in safety in six of seven test areas, with a decrease in the size and intensity of shooting hot spots in four areas, though results for the other two areas was inconclusive.  

In New York, as the city saw an increase in violence in summer 2018 linked to the Trinitarios and other gangs, Ceasefire was increased in the Bronx from the 40th Precinct to the 46th and 52nd Precincts, NYPD chief of crime strategies Lori Pollock said in October.

The initiative uses a series of escalating encounters with gang members, who are generally considered to be part of a small subculture of people responsible for as much as 75 percent of the violence in some areas of the city, Lipetri said.  

The first step, said Lipetri, is a “call in” where gang members on parole or probation are asked to come in for meetings with officers, clergy and law enforcement officials. Usually 25 parolees show up, Lipetri said.

Social service providers, clergy and police officers speak to the group, as do federal prosecutors and family members who have lost someone to violence, he said.

“We tell them you are at greater risk of being shot, killed, arrested. Take our services, they are here for you. Do not cause violence in the city of New York,” said Lipetri, “and then the warning comes.”

The individual is warned that if any member of the gang commits a murder or other act of violence, then a number of law enforcement agencies — which may include federal officials — may exert extra legal pressure on that person, Lipetri said.

One NYPD official, who didn’t want to named, said that Ceasefire was a tactic that appeared be working but that it would require more in depth study to determine what the long term impact would be.

Lipetri said Ceasefire would undergo a review by an outside organization. Results are expected in 2019.

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