The COVID-19 pandemic that rocked New York City in 2020 came with a different lethal side effect: an incredible rise in gun violence across the city.
After dealing with hundreds of shootings in the months that followed, the city is finally on track to return to a pre-pandemic level of violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated at his Oct. 6 press conference. He touted the efforts of both the NYPD in making hundreds of gun arrests as well as groups like the God Squad, a group of faith-centered violence interrupters in Brooklyn, appear at his press conference to describe what’s happening on the ground.
“I want to say thank you to New York City, thank you to the mayor, to the police commissioner for really working with community groups,” said Pastor Gil Monrose, one of the God Squad leaders.
The group celebrated 11 years of violence interruption last month, in the 67th Precinct. Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez spoke about a “dramatic reduction in gun violence” at the time.
Pastor Monrose said the mayor is not just putting ideas behind violence reduction, “but also the dollars.”
“New York City has been leading the way when it comes to investing in the crisis management system,” Pastor Monrose said. He and the other clergy members work directly with youth in leadership programs to stop them from getting involved in gun violence in the future.
Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3 there were zero shootings in the 67th precinct. Across the city, there were 40 incidents, bringing the total year-to-date shootings to almost 100 more than last year this time.
In a press release from the NYPD, Commissioner Shea announced a drop in murders and shootings, but the city is definitely not at pre-pandemic levels just yet.
“A lot of work needs to be done still,” Shea said Wednesday morning.
“When you look at the gun arrest levels that were made in September of 2021, it’s the second highest number in 25 years. So, that is absolutely a positive. When you look at the overall crime rate, what we did see a spike in, particularly in the month of September, is felony assaults,” Shea continued.
Despite high crime numbers being a negative point, high arrests when it comes to guns is always touted as a plus, because it results in guns off the streets.
“It’s important that the NYPD continues as we head into the last quarter of 2021 to finish this year, very strong,” Shea said. He highlighted their Blue Chips program, which is the youth mentoring program, and the Saturday Night Lights, which holds indoor sports programs for kids across the city; both of which are much easier for them to continue now that the City has new COVID protocol for indoor activities.