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Explore snapshots of community-based safety strategies that expand our ideas about what keeps us safe.

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Location: Brooklyn, NY

Organization: Vars.

During the five-day pilot program in December 2020, a collection of Cure Violence groups, community organizations and city agencies called the Brownsville Safety Alliance set up information booths on Mother Gaston Boulevard as cops from the 73rd Precinct withdrew from their regular posts.

︎ Offered at no cost to participants
Cops from Brownsville’s 73rd Precinct withdrew from their regular posts on Mother Gaston Boulevard for parts of a five-day stretch in early December, while violence interrupter and crisis management groups watched over the two-block zone between Pitkin and Sutter avenues.

The idea was for the groups, staffed largely by community members with prior involvement with the criminal justice system, to prevent minor incidents from escalating into violence or other crime.

Meanwhile, city agencies and nonprofits set up tents along the strip — surrounded by one of the city’s highest concentrations of public housing — to offer information on education, job and housing opportunities, as well as other services.

Only one 911 call, from a bus driver who mistakenly activated a distress signal, was reported during the pilot, police told community groups during a recent video conference.

And while the Brownsville Safety Alliance experiment was limited — covering just 50 daytime and evening hours during a cold week in the middle of a pandemic — elected officials and community leaders said it marked a significant step toward reimagining public safety.

Excerpted From: Five Days Without Cops: Could Brooklyn Policing Experiment be a ‘Model for the Future’?, Yoav Gonen and Eileen Grench, The City, January 3, 2021