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.
Anti-violence and community-based organizations in New York City present an alternative approach to public safety. Save Our Streets "helped reduce shootings in the South Bronx area where they work by sixty-three per cent," the New Yorker reports in a profile of our work.
After a mass shooting occurred in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Brian Cunningham, director of our Neighbors in Action, discusses the anti-gun violence and therapeutic care work we do in New York City with Brian Lehrer on WNYC.
We all know what's wrong with the criminal justice system (fairness and humanity are often in short supply). Drawing from our work, our director, Greg Berman, describes some community-based solutions—like violence interruption, trauma-informed care for the justice-involved, and social workers rather than bail or detention pretrial—that are already making a difference.