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Peers of Brooklyn Chamber: Mayor Adams’ anti-gun violence program takes right approach

February 2, 2022 Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Randy Peers unveils a new program to provide micro loans for small businesses. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle
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The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce — like several dozen New York-area business groups, social service nonprofits, labor unions, corporations, churches and others — has endorsed the goals of Mayor Eric Adams’ “Blueprint to End Gun Violence,” 

“Any type of economic recovery could be undermined by a spike in violent crime, which then creates the perception that the city is unsafe,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber.

Mayor Adams, a former high-ranking police officer, emphasized that his plan includes both law enforcement and prevention. 

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Peers approved of this dual emphasis; on one hand, policing and enforcement, looking at the impact of bail reform and so on, “but simultaneously investing in youth services and mental health support.”

“It can’t only be about policing and enforcement,” Peers said. “It has to be about the community coming together.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

The mayor’s plan includes putting more officers on patrol in key neighborhood; establishing Neighborhood Safety Teams to focus on gun violence, focusing on the 30 precincts where 80 percent of the violence occurs; and expanding partnerships between the NYPD and New York State Police. 

In his speech introducing his plan, Adams also said he wishes to implement spot checks for guns at entry points like the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other bus and train stations. “We know that new guns are arriving by car, by bus and by train every day,” the mayor said.

On the other hand, Adams said the city will expand the anti-violence Crisis Management System, put a dedicated anti-gun violence coordinator in every city agency, and launch an “unprecedented” Summer Youth Employment and Youth Engagement Program for summer 2022. 

The entrance to Kings Plaza, a major shopping center in Southeast Brooklyn, looking east from Flatbush Avenue. Two teenagers were shot inside the mall earlier this week, and three others are now facing charges. Wikimedia photo by TDorante

In addition, Adams plans to expand the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program to 10 additional hospitals, and create a Quality of Life Task Force that will include officials from the NYPD, the Department of Homeless Services and the mental health system.

Peers commented that there is a particular concern about safety in public transit. “People need to feel safe in the subway,” he said. “A lot of subway crime goes unreported.”

He also urged small businesses to hire young people for the summer. “Give them an alternative narrative as opposed to gangs and crime and things they shouldn’t be involved with,” he said.

Talking about the recovery in general, Peers said that “it can’t be driven only by large corporate entities. It has to be small business-driven as well. 

An empty storefront, as seen on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights in December 2020. To help this and other Brooklyn shopping streets recover from the COVID pandemic, there can’t be a perception that the city is unsafe. Eagle file photo by Mary Frost

“Every one of our 51 neighborhoods has peak commercial corridors, and every one of them is a micro-central business district for that particular neighborhood. Who are the businesses who populate those corridors? Mom and pop, smaller, retail-type businesses,” he said.

These mini-business districts, which draw on a mix of customers, have been doing better during COVID than Manhattan central business districts, which have heavily relied on office workers. 

In addition to containing crime, Peers said, “We need this recovery to be broad-based and equitable. We have to focus on communities of color. We want to encourage investment in these communities. 

“In the past, it hasn’t always included these communities. In Brooklyn, [investment] has focused on gentrifying communities. We’ve done a lot in Brownsville, in Canarsie,” he added.

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