New York continues to be the safest big city in the nation. Major crimes are down more than seven per cent so far this year compared with the same period in 2001. And since January 1, there have been fewer murders in our city than at any time in 40 years.
That’s good news—but it’s no reason to be complacent. Any crime is too much crime. That’s why my administration launched two new criminal justice initiatives during the past week.
The first, the "Cash for Guns" program, is designed to reduce gun violence in our city. From now until June 6, anyone bringing what appears to be an operable handgun, sawed-off shotgun or assault weapon to a police precinct, housing police service station, or transit district will be eligible for $100 cash. Guns turned in must be unloaded and sealed in a bag. Individuals turning in these weapons will remain completely anonymous; no questions will be asked. And anyone who is uncomfortable delivering a gun to a police station can call a local precinct and make arrangements for it to be picked up. During a similar program three years ago, New Yorkers brought in nearly 2,000 guns to the police. The reward money comes from the criminal assets forfeited to the state.
Additionally, last month the Police Department strengthened "Operation Gun-Stop" by doubling the reward money from $500 to $1,000 for every anonymous tip reported to 1-866-GUN-STOP that leads to the arrest of someone who possesses or sells illegal guns. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of Cash for Guns and Operation Gun-Stop to make their homes, and our city, safer.
Last week, I also announced a new initiative to prevent and respond to domestic violence—the Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT).
DVRT will start in two police precincts—one in he Bronx and one in Brooklyn—where police receive particularly high numbers of domestic violence incidents. DVRT teams, made up of police officers and professionals from city health, housing and social service agencies, will identify the households in those precincts that are at highest risk. Then they’ll come up with a coordinated strategy tailored to each household to reduce the danger of domestic violence there. We are also partnering with Verizon Wireless, who will aid the DVRT program by donating cell phones so that domestic violence victims in these homes can make emergency 911 calls as well as be reached by their landlords and potential employers.
Domestic violence is a particularly difficult crime to combat, because it happens behind closed doors, outside the public’s eye. The DVRT initiative is a new strategy for stopping the cycle of violence that threatens too many families. The DVRT and Cash for Guns initiatives, along with Operation Gun-Stop, demonstrate that my administration has zero tolerance for crime and violence. My top priority as your mayor will always remain making sure that all New Yorkers are safe on the streets and in our homes.
Michael R. Bloomberg was elected the 108th mayor of New York City in November 2001.