NYC Public Advocate Pushes To Strengthen Crisis Management System In An Effort To Prevent Gun Violence

November 4th, 2022

Press Release

Today, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams championed the Crisis Management System (CMS) as alternative anti-violence programming, as well as supported the passage of two bills aimed at supporting and evaluating non-profit violence prevention groups, as the City continues its efforts to address a local and nationwide spike in gun violence. Speaking at a hearing of the Committee on Public Safety in the City Council, he highlighted the many successes of the Crisis Management System in the ongoing work to holistically address violence in New York City.

“While it may be necessary to make an arrest and take a person who has perpetrated an act of gun violence off the streets, it is clear that traditional policing by itself cannot address the root of the problem, and thus does not have the long-term effects that we desire,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. As part of co-producing public safety, he advocated for supporting and funding non-profit organizations that aim to prevent violence in the first place.

The city’s Crisis Management System is a network that is centered around credible messengers who help mediate conflicts on the street, and helps to connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence.

The Public Advocate, who as a former Chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence helped push for and launch the Crisis Management System from its inception, also pointed to data that shows that CMS groups have seen massive success where implemented. He explained that, “the program [CMS] has contributed to an average 40 percent reduction in shootings across program areas, compared to a 31 percent decline in shootings in the 17 precincts in New York City with the highest rates of violence. We also found that violence decreased in those catchment areas even further than the city as a whole.”

The Office of Public Advocate recently released a comprehensive plan on the root causes of gun violence in New York City as well as recommendations to save lives. Read and download the report, Reimagining Gun Violence Prevention and Public Safety For New York City.

Given the past successes of anti-violence programming initiatives, the Public Advocate highlighted legislation to support, evaluate, and strengthen CMS. He argued, “This is what public safety can look like: an investment in communities, robust support services, and allowing those closest to the problem to lead the solution,” and urged passage of Int. 0756-2022, introduced by Chair Hanks, which would require the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to provide training and operational support to not-for-profit organizations participating in CMS, as well as Int. 0439-2022, introduced by Council Member Nantasha Williams, which mandates that MOCJ evaluate the performance of any organization that receives funding from the city for criminal justice-related services and submit a summary of the evaluation to the mayor and the speaker.

Read the Public Advocate’s full statement below.

STATEMENT OF PUBLIC ADVOCATE JUMAANE D. WILLIAMS

TO THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY

NOVEMBER 4, 2022

Good morning,

My name is Jumaane D. Williams, and I am the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Again, thank you to the Chair and the members of the Committee on Public Safety for holding this important hearing.

The stress and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase of violence, particularly gun violence, in our city. Although the spike in gun violence has begun to decline, even one shooting is too many. We must also make clear that this violence has increased all across the country, but New York City does have an opportunity to lead. While it may be necessary to make an arrest and take a person who has perpetrated an act of gun violence off the streets, it is clear that traditional policing by itself cannot address the root of the problem, and thus does not have the long-term effects that we desire. In September of this year, my office released a report on reimagining gun violence prevention, which outlines a number of alternative solutions to traditional policing.

Mayor Adams and I sometimes disagree on the most impactful ways to address crime and violence in our city, but I applaud his support of alternative solutions to violence, including violence interrupters and crisis management systems. I’m also proud to have been one of the leading voices in getting this off the ground, so to see this go from the five million dollars originally allotted to where it is now, makes me very proud. The city’s Crisis Management System (CMS) is a network that is centered around credible messengers who help mediate conflicts on the street, but it also does so much more than that. It helps connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence. We made sure that the Crisis Management System was not just the Cure Violence Program, but also provided non-punitive, wrap-around services including school conflict mediation, employment programs, mental health services, and legal services.

We have evidence that alternatives to policing work to reduce violence: CMS data from 2010 to 2019 did the opposite of what people said would happen. They told us the sky would fall in and crime would rise, but we showed that the program has contributed to an average 40 percent reduction in shootings across program areas, compared to a 31 percent decline in shootings in the 17 precincts in New York City with the highest rates of violence. We also found that violence decreased in those catchment areas even further than the city as a whole.  

Brownsville, Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct exemplifies the success and necessity of these types of programs. In December 2020, the police withdrew from their regular posts on Mother Gaston Boulevard for five days. Instead of a police presence, a CMS group that was called Brownsville In, Violence Out watched over the two blocks between Pitkin and Sutter Avenues. No valid 911 or 311 calls were made during this pilot. A second round of this experiment a few months later saw the cure violence group and their community partners finding a missing 4-year-old and intervening in a fight brewing between groups of teenage girls, all without the help of police. I also want to shout out CCD, run by K Bain. I’m very proud of that, because he was my legislative director at the time when we got this off the ground, and the catchment area he has in Queensbridge went a whole year, the largest public housing in the country went a whole year without any shootings at all. 

This is what public safety can look like: an investment in communities, robust support services, and allowing those closest to the problem to lead the solution. I absolutely understand that our law enforcement partners are necessary, the problem is when we ask them to do the job of so many others. That is why I am expressing my support for, and hope to sign onto, Int. 0756-2022, introduced by Chair Hanks, which would require the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to provide training and operational support to not-for-profit organizations participating in CMS. Also integral to expanding this system is Int. 0439-2022, which I’d also like to sign onto, introduced by Council Member Nantasha Williams, which mandates that MOCJ evaluate the performance of any organization that receives funding from the city for criminal justice-related services and submit a summary of the evaluation to the mayor and the speaker. As a matter of fact, when we had the original pilot program, there was funding made available for this program to be evaluated. I’m not sure what happened. Thank you to both Chair Hanks and Council Member Williams for introducing these important bills.

As widespread support for alternatives to policing grows, I am excited to work with the Mayor’s Office and the City Council to support and expand these critical programs and services that have been proven to keep New Yorkers safe.

As I mentioned, this is a problem all across the country, and I also know that data means nothing to people who are suffering in this city. We have an opportunity to lead here and we should. 

Thank you.

Our Office

David N. Dinkins Municipal Building
1 Centre Street 15th Floor North
New York, NY 10007

Email: gethelp@advocate.nyc.gov

Hotline: (212) 669-7250

Fax: (888) 409-0287*

Text: (833) 933-1692

*Our fax number has changed temporarily while we upgrade our infrastructure
© 2024 Copyright: Office of the New York City Public Advocate
Privacy Policy