Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) seeks to end gun violence at the neighborhood level by changing local norms.
The Center operates S.O.S. programs in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and the Bronx neighborhoods of the South Bronx (Mott Haven) and Morrisania. The core of the program consists of violence interrupters with first-hand knowledge of street and gang life who use their credibility and relationships to mediate conflicts before they escalate. In partnership with local organizations and faith leaders, S.O.S. holds frequent community events along with rapid responses to individual shootings, sending the message that the community will not tolerate violence.
In 2017, more than 17,000 people were murdered in the United States, most of them in cities. On New Thinking, Thomas Abt, a long-time policy-maker and researcher, says, far from intractable, there are proven ways to reduce the violence, but he worries the urgency of acting now is being ignored. And when it comes to how we think about violence, he has a bone to pick with both the right and the left.
As part of a conference sponsored by the Center for Court Innovation and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, we asked justice system leaders and experts, "If you could make just one investment to improve criminal justice in New York City, what would it be?"
Safety is more than just the absence of crime. We asked people from communities around New York City, including our staff and people they work with, about safety—how they define it, and how they’d improve it in the neighborhoods where they live.
Spurred by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, New York is just one city where protesters are calling for money to be diverted from police budgets to the community. Mayor Bill de Blasio added $10 million of funding for community groups running alternative-to-policing programs, including Save Our Streets.
"In New York City, one study found that gun violence rates declined significantly in two neighborhoods operating violence interruption programs." The Appeal cites our Save Our Streets program in the Bronx as one way to reduce the footprint of police and create safer communities.
Gun violence has risen in cities across the U.S. this summer, compounding the issues of systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Nonprofit Quarterly explores research-backed solutions to gun violence, including violence interruption programs like our Save Our Streets, which approaches gun violence as a public health issue.