Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the CMS program will be expanded to sites in five neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Canarsie.
The $10 million investment to open new sites and add program staff means the anti-violence initiative will cover the 20 precincts with the highest rates of gun violence in the city, such as the 103rd Precinct in Queens and the 69th, 70th and 71st precincts in Brooklyn.
“The most effective solutions come from the grassroots and create change beyond the power of government,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Cure Violence has empowered leaders from across our city to take control of their neighborhoods and rethink what it means to keep each other safe.”
The CMS program was launched in 2017 by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety through the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. The initiative grew into a network of providers that use a “Cure Violence” model that deploys credible messengers whose backgrounds help connect with at-risk community members.
The messengers mediate conflicts on the street and connect “high-risk individuals” with year-round employment programs, mental health services and trauma counseling.
According to the city, shootings fell by 28 percent across all CMS sites over the first two years of a site’s launch, while gun injuries fell 33 percent.
“Public safety starts in and is sustained by the community,” said Eric Cumberbatch, deputy director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety. “The Crisis Management System and other vital initiatives like the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety tap into the grassroots, community-based networks that are led by people who know their neighborhoods best - our residents.”
On Saturday, the mayor visited Life Camp, a frontline gun violence prevention and intervention organization based in Jamaica, where the CMS program will expand.
Erica Ford, executive director of Life Camp, said in a statement that the work must begin by changing mindsets and helping people.
“We hear the cry in the streets, we understand and we see you,” she said. “We are here to take the job and stand in salute of peace.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, who represents parts of southeast Queens and co-chairs the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, said in a statement that it’s important for the city to put into place a system for change at this “critical juncture.”
“Increasing community-led measures to preemptively cure violence is a step in the right direction,” she said. “Violence interrupters are critical allies of law enforcement, schools, medical facilities and more.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams added in a statement that “law enforcement alone” is not the answer.
“Doubling down on the Cure Violence model is an acknowledgement of our advocacy for the tireless work violence interrupters do to make our communities safer,” he said. “Now we must ensure they get paid on time for their work.”