Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez last week announced a new partnership with local clergy to help limit gun violence. The announcement comes as New York City gun violence rises to the highest rates in more than a decade.
Over 500 people have already been shot in 2021, a figure that will likely rise as the warmer summer months approach.
“Trusted community members can do a lot to stem violence,” Gonzalez said during a press conference in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “With the right training and support, community members can effectively intervene in disputes and conflicts.”
The DA’s partnership with local clergy is meant to prevent shootings before they happen by bringing new programs of support to various communities. They will work with NYPD officials to provide counseling to at-risk children and organize paid internships to get kids working and off the streets.
The new program will be piloted at the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush, the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, the 70th Precinct in Flatbush, the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the 83rd Precinct in Bushwick.
Gonzales emphasized the importance of community-based solutions, and expressed his hope that the partnership with the clergy would open the doorway to other innovative programs.
“Finding community-based solutions to violence must be a priority in our fight against gun violence,” said Gonzalez. “I believe our faith leaders have an important role to play and can help us turn these crime upticks around because they have the experience, credibility and the resources to support victims of crime and to reach vulnerable youth and set them on a better path.
“Law enforcement has to take a step back,” he added. “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”
The new program builds upon the preexisting GodSquad that Pastor Gilford T. Monrose, president of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council. operates out of the precinct.
GodSquad has worked in collaboration with the NYPD and other community groups for over ten years to reduce gun violence in East Flatbush.
“Clergy councils have long served as a liaison between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Monrose. “By building on this collection of clergy leaders, this partnership will embody a holistic, multi-pronged approach with the help of our very diverse Brooklyn clergy.”
DA Gonzales’s announcement comes at a time when New York City’s gun violence has spiked to the highest levels in over a decade.