Brooklyn DA’s office fights gun violence through community initiatives

Participants at the End the Violence family fun day in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from left, an official, Lawrence Norman health educator for the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Karen Chambers, Inspector Mascol, Asst. Commissioner Kevin O'Connor, Officer Malcolm Marchelle, Dept Insp. Kathleen Fahey, and other officers.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the NYPD & Cooper Park Residents Council Inc., on Thursday, Nov.18, provided an afternoon of musical entertainment, face printing, and games, during a three-hour period, from 3 pm, to give the residents of Cooper Park Houses a reprieve from the spate of gun violence that is permeating the environ, and endangering the lives of citizens.

Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Connor during an interview with Caribbean Life, at the Jackson St. and Debevoise Avenue junction in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, applauded the youth coordinating officers (YCOs) of the 94th PCT for coming together with the community to discuss what is going on with the young people, to address the violence, and to figure out, how they could fix the scourge as a collective, as a village. “We must bring people together,” he urged.

He said, there is an uptick of violence across New York City, noting that 400 teenagers were arrested for gun possession over the past year.

“We have to stop it. We must get young people to understand that guns are dangerous, not only to themselves, but to the community, that is why we are hosting this event.”

“The biggest thing is communication, people coming together. We spend too much time on social media, and texting, and we forget what community is about. Getting together, meeting new people and building relationship. That is what policing is about.”

He thanked the youth coordinating officers, (YCOs) and multiple partners like the clergy, community-based organizations, and the NYPD Explorers. “There are many people involved. This is where we start building a foundation, said O’Connor, who shared that such initiatives are ongoing, and so far, 60 such community fun day events were held for the year.

“We will continue to do this, no matter the weather. If they see us out here, we will continue fighting for them, and we will bring together as many partners as possible, to get the youths on the right track,” said O’Connor.

Trinidad-born, Officer Marchelle of the 94th Precinct, who has served almost six years in the NYPD, said he and his partners were given the power and ability by Assistant Commissioner O’Connor to host the event.

“We tell the youth we are here to help them and will make a difference in their community. Just recently, two students were shot coming home from school in this same community,” said Marchelle.

“I feel I am making a difference in the community. I love working with the youths to show them a different lifestyle, because they don’t have a lot of mentors in their community to show them the right way,” said Officer Marchelle, adding he is in a position to help the kids, and has been doing so, by protecting them as they attend sporting events at the YMCA at nighttime.

Along with fellow officers, youths are engaged in basketball and football, through the NYPD Blue Chips Program where they are inspired to do well.

A child from the Cooper Park Houses having his face painted during the family fun day. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

“We definitely need to be in the community, as part of the community, showing that we are in the community in every step and every phase of life, about stopping the violence.

“We engage the community in many other ways but today, specifically, it’s about getting the message out about gun violence and how we can disable it. We must fight against it with the community,” said Marchelle.

He said the NYPD has conversations with youths, as young as 12 years old, about violence and how to avoid the pitfalls that could lead them to gang violence, because he explained, for many of them it is very difficult to get out of that lifestyle.

“I always tell my guys, if you want somebody to come out of something, you will have something to get them into. My effort is making sure we have robust programs, so if we tell these young women and men to come out of gang lifestyle, we can put them into something positive, and give them a future and help,” said Inspector Mascol.

Part of the (YCO) program is home visits to the young men who have been involved in violence, and the home of the victims of crimes, 17 years old and under. “We sit down and talk with the parent and that child about how to avoid going into that part. We also talk to violent interrupters,” said Inspector Mascol.

Those who have changed their lives around are given an opportunity to talk to their peers, about not following that same path, said the inspector.

Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector Kathleen Fahey said she is blessed to be in the community of the 94th Precinct, in the Williamsburg, Greenpoint area, playing a role to empower the officers that work under her to be their best selves.

“They come from various experiences, they come from the community themselves, and a wonderful event like this, where I could set up Officer Machelle and Officer Jean to what they do best, bringing their skills and strengths, to help members of the community. Cooper Park Houses is a community, families looking out for each other, they don’t deserve the violence,” said the deputy inspector.

“We are here today to make sure that positive events are what characterize Copper Park House and that it is not characterized by violence.”

“We are fortunate to have people like Deborah Bender, the tenant association president. She is very tough; she has a high standard. She expects parents to be responsible, and we want to offer any resources to any parent who needs it, it is not easy to be a parent, especially today, because there are a lot of things that can go wrong,” she said, adding, “it is all about police officers bringing their resources and support for the community.”

DA Eric Gonzalez said, “We are tired of our youth getting shot. It is time to put down the guns and make a difference and called on the community to ‘join us for an in-depth conversation on how to make effective change.’”

He added in a twitter post: “Our children deserve to live and play without fear of violence. We are grateful to Cooper Park Resident Council President, Debra Benders, and everyone who came out to promote peace in East Williamsburg.

DA Gonzalez also thanked the NYPD 94PCT, that serves the northernmost portion of Brooklyn, consisting of, primarily, the neighborhood of Greenpoint, and Chief Harrison, Cooper Park Council President, Debra Benders & our amazing Youth Coordination Officers, Jean & Malcolm, for organizing a wonderful event to let our community know that we’ve had enough violence & look forward to a peaceful collaborative future.

Karen Chambers, community liaison of the District Attorney’s Office, presented a Certificate of Honor to Police Officer, Malcolm Marcelle for his outstanding work in the 94thPCT.

Community Liaison of Brooklyn, Trinidadian-born Karen Chambers, thanked the 94th PCT for hosting the “End the Violence” initiative, noting that it is very important that gang leaders know children are out in the streets every day, and they must end the violence.

Some of the partners included, MetroPlus, Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, New York Life, AT&T, NYPD Explorers, NYC Housing Authority, NYPD Exploring, and others.

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