City Council Members Plan to Launch CeaseFire Program

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There has undeniably been a spate of gun violence in New York City as of late. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmembers Fernando Cabrera and Jumaane Williams have announced their decision to launch the CeaseFire program, with the aim to reduce city gun violence. The CeaseFire program is a "public health model designed to reduce and prevent incidents of violence across the City." It was designed in cooperation with the City's Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, created last fall. The Force intends to release its full report soon. Quinn called CeaseFire "an innovative approach to preventing gun violence that draws on the strength of our communities, and focuses on both rapid responses and early prevention." "We believe this initiative will complement the work of the NYPD and help save lives," she said. The program was developed from a model of "violence interruption and personal engagement," and has been in the works for the past year, while the Force analyzed various safety and prevention approaches and practices. CeaseFire employs a model of immediate response, based on fostering relationships in the community and avoiding retaliation. Essentially it involves implementing a system wherein outreach counselors arrive immediately on scene in the wake of gun violence and try to build and nurture community bonds through peaceful means and dialogue. Councilmember Williams said: "Our reward will hopefully be the sons and daughters of this city who we see walking our safer streets, rather than lying on them." He acknowledged nonetheless the City still has a long way to go toward this ideal of safety. The program will be implemented, with Council funding, in two neighborhoods determined most in need-the South Bronx and South Jamaica, Queens. A pilot program will also be implemented at Richmond University Medical Center to analyze a hospital-based approach. "Our work in Crown Heights has demonstrated the positive impact that broad-based community-based collaboration can have in fighting the scourge of gun violence," said Alfred Siegel, deputy director of the Center for Court Innovation. The City's Department of Health will fund two other programs in Harlem and East New York in conjunction with the City Council's project. -Alissa Fleck

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