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How NYC Antiviolence Program Ended After 'Toxic' Experience

On March 15, 2021, moments after then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced plans to launch a new gun violence prevention program, DeVone Boggan’s of a group called Advance Peace got calls from reporters seeking Boggan’s comment on the news that his organization, would bring its model to New York City. The expansion was news to Boggan, reports The Trace. Boggan typically gets involved early when a new city wants to use the model. It’s been more than 19 months since New York officials said the city would launch the pilot, and there’s little progress to show for it. The pilot was scheduled to begin in July 2021, then was delayed until fall. Months later, no participants have been enrolled, and Advance Peace is pulling out of New York City altogether after what Boggan called a “toxic” experience.

The effort suffered from poor planning, a lack of central coordination, miscommunications, and missed deadlines. As the federal government invests in community-based public safety strategies at an unprecedented level, Advance Peace’s experience in New York could be a cautionary tale for cities trying to launch alternative public safety strategies while under political pressure to act amid rising rates of violence. “Especially when the problem is as urgent as gun violence, the need for transparency, for planning carefully, for being attentive to what will work and what won’t, to being clear-eyed about where the pitfalls are, is crucial,” said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice until 2020. Plans for the $5.5 million pilot came from the highest levels of the outgoing de Blasio administration. Their directive gave lower-level, career officials who were responsible for its implementation little time to prepare. After the pilot failed to hit its benchmarks, the office overseeing it quietly decided not to renew its funding for the fiscal year that began in July. Current Mayor Eric Adams has said the city’s network of violence interrupters, known as the Crisis Management System (CMS), is key to addressing gun violence. He named A.T. Mitchell of the Brooklyn anti-violence nonprofit Man Up Inc., as the city’s “gun czar.” Despite promises to expand CMS’s work, Adams has not increased the system’s budget.


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