Public Safety ∙ Jobs ∙ Racial Equity
A Safe Summer
New York City will not come back if we don’t feel safe. Every year, gun violence and homicides spike during the summer months, and communities of color disproportionately bear the burden.
This summer could be one of the most violent in New York City in decades, unless we take steps now to turn the tide. The current Administration must take immediate action to prevent more violence in our communities and keep all New Yorkers safe.
Put a Stop to Violence on the Subways
New York City subways are the lifeblood of our city. Everyone who rides the train needs to feel safe. For far too long, the Mayor and Governor have gone back and forth on assuming responsibility for passenger safety, to the detriment of riders.
- Maintain highly visible police presence on station platforms by turning new transit bureau officers to focus on the subways full-time: Mayor De Blasio recently added 250 new NYPD officers, making the total number of NYPD Transit Bureau officers 3,250. Yet the additional officers are working at limited capacities. These officers must be full-time, around the clock officers present at all 472 subway stations across our transit system, rather than only during rush hour.
- Make at least two visual inspections on each train during its route: Transit officers must make at least two visual inspections of each train to ensure that riders are safe, and that people in need of services are connected to care. Officers must not take a laissez-faire approach to subway safety - their presence must be known and felt by New Yorkers.
- Create pop-up respite centers with homeless service providers inside stations: The harsh realities that face people experiencing homelessness could not be more visible than they are on the New York City subway system. Service providers work day in and day out on our City’s subway system, as outreach workers seek to connect people with care. However, service providers are limited in their capacity because they are tasked with bringing people above ground to connect to shelter or medical care. We must create pop-up respite centers inside of stations with greater numbers of people experiencing homelessness so outreach workers can connect people with what they need quicker, and so more hands are available to intervene if a situation escalates.
Suppress Gang and Gun Violence
Sixty to seventy percent of gun violence in New York City is gang-related. There is only a 25.5% clearance rate for crimes overall, and 9 out of every 10 incidents of gun violence go unsolved. Detectives need far more resources to close cases and the existing, highly skilled gun violence and gang units of the NYPD need far more support to do their jobs.
- Fully resource the Gun Violence Suppression Division: The Gun Violence Suppression Division is made up of 200 NYPD personnel and is focused on police investigations related to illegal firearms, as well as shootings and gangs. The deep work required to both prevent gun violence, but also close cases, requires more personnel and far more support. We must add 200 new officers to the Gun Violence Suppression Division, adding more capacity for detectives to prevent and respond to future incidents of gun violence.
- Give detectives more resources to do their jobs by adding an officer to each gun case: While the Gun Violence Suppression Division targets high profile incidents of gun violence, detectives work day in and day out to solve gun crimes in communities. These detectives need more support to do their jobs. The Administration must elevate more officers to add staff capacity to solve gun crimes, reducing caseloads and increasing the clearance rate, and add an additional officer to each gun case.
- Create a new Anti-Violence and Community Safety Unit staffed with the most experienced, vetted, and well-trained officers to get guns off the streets. Getting guns off the street requires policing skills developed over years of hard-earned experience. In a Yang administration, the NYPD will recruit law enforcement professionals with relevant experience, clean disciplinary records, and highly specialized training in both community engagement and harm reduction into a newly created Anti-Violence Unit dedicated to removing guns from the most violent precincts. Previous efforts, such as the Anti-Crime Unit, too often failed to recruit the right officers, provide the right training, or to deploy teams to only those neighborhoods in greatest need of specialized policing. Officers deployed in the Anti-Violence Unit will need to be vetted and approved by the new Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and their teams will be expected to both reduce crime and increase trust in the communities they serve. The two are not mutually exclusive.
- Add $20 million in City funding to re-entry organizations that work with returning citizens: Nonprofit service providers who work with returning citizens and parolees know that there is a highly specialized approach required to support people reintegrating into their communities. The reality facing these New Yorkers is that more investment is required due to the potential of ongoing gang violence or community ties that lead to recidivism. The current Administration must add additional resources to service providers working with returning citizens, bolstering re-entry services for those who served ten years in prison or less.
Securing our houses of worship and activating public spaces
Our public spaces and houses of worship are incredibly valuable to New Yorkers. They must continue to be safe places for people of all ages to congregate. As the summer quickly approaches, houses of worship and safe outdoor spaces must be a top priority.
- Launch a clergy coalition to protect houses of worship: Recent attacks on synagogues and mosques have raised the urgency of protecting our houses of worship. We must launch an interfaith clergy coalition to coordinate directly with the NYPD to protect our houses of worship.
- Protect New Yorkers in major commercial and civic centers: The current Administration must ensure that New York’s major commercial and civic centers in all five boroughs have highly visible mounted officers and officers on foot to make the police presence more visible.
- Use federal money to make sure parks across the city are clean and ready by summer: New York City has approximately 1,700 parks that have become even more of a public resource during the pandemic. As part of the federal stimulus package, the current Administration must invest in cleanliness, safety and lighting at all parks across the five boroughs so that people of all ages want to use them, and so young people in particular have safe, well-lit places to play.
- Direct police to maintain a respectful presence around major centers for nightlife: New York nightlife is most certainly back. NYPD officers must be deployed at major centers of nightlife so patrons feel safe, and so violence can be interrupted.
Take a community-oriented approach to neighborhood crime reduction
Gun violence and crime remains concentrated in 10-14 precincts across the five boroughs. Preventing and responding to gun violence requires a clear, community-centered, place-based approach.
- Create a rapid response community request process for additional street lighting with a focus on NYCHA: Every neighborhood in the city, especially those with increasing levels of street crime, must have adequate street lighting. The current Administration must create a clear, rapid-response request process so that all communities requesting additional street lighting receive it before the start of summer. This is of particular importance at NYCHA, where residents and Tenant Associations have requested additional lighting for years, with little response from the City.
- Release funding for Cure Violence and anti-violence organizations now, well before the new fiscal year: Mayor De Blasio just committed to adding resources to New York City’s Cure Violence program, an evidenced-based national effort that started from grassroots organizations to hire and engage people with former gang experience to intervene in community disputes well before violence takes place. Rather than waiting until July 1 and watching the body count rise, Andrew Yang is calling for the Mayor to release resources immediately to support organizations on the ground to intervene in the anticipated rise in gun violence this summer, well before it happens. These resources must also be expanded to organizations that lean on the Cure Violence model, but are promising for violence reduction at the local level.
- Fully resource New York City’s Crisis Management System (CMS) before Summer 2021: CMS deploys teams of credible messengers and wraparound service providers who mediate conflicts on the street and connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence. In addition to resources for Cure Violence organizations, the Administration and City Council must continue to scale investment in CMS in anticipation of the summer. From 2010-2019, there was a 40% reduction in shootings in neighborhoods in the 17 highest violence precincts in New York City. When fully resourced, CMS works, and anti-violence organizations who do business with the City to serve communities must receive resources well before they are asked to take on the enormous responsibility of this work during the summer months.
Give young people a chance to work
The best violence prevention program is a job. Economic opportunity keeps young people in particular, busy and out of harm’s way.
- Expand the Summer Youth Employment Program: A Yang Administration has committed to expanding SYEP to 175,000 slots. This growth should start right away - this Summer, the current Administration must expand SYEP by 25,000 slots immediately.
- Connect young people with jobs in the hospitality industry who are struggling to fill slots: There have been numerous reports of restaurants, bars and other businesses in the hospitality industry struggling to find workers to fill available slots. The Administration must launch an online marketplace for employers, like restaurants, to recruit young people looking for summer jobs This portal must make it easy for young people to also get the licensing and clearance needed to get working right away. Young people are ready and willing to work, and the hospitality industry is the perfect place for an entry-level job.