Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with Pastor Gilford T. Monrose, president of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council in Brooklyn, popularly known as “The GodSquad,” on Tuesday announced a new strategic partnership to help reduce gun violence in Brooklyn.
Working together with community members, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and faith leaders, Gonzalez said his office and Clergy Councils will “endeavor to provide support and guidance to at-risk youth, and offer assistance in several high-crime precincts to strengthen trust between communities and law enforcement as part of a holistic approach to reducing crime and breaking the recurring cycle of violence and criminal justice involvement.
“We are proud to announce this vital partnership with our Clergy Councils to work together to help eradicate violence in our communities,” Gonzalez said. “Finding community-based solutions to violence must be a priority in our fight against gun violence.
“I believe our faith leaders have an important role to play and can help us turn these crime upticks around, because they have the experience, credibility and the resources to support victims of crime and to reach vulnerable youth and set them on a better path,” he added.
“I especially want to thank Pastor Monrose and the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, which has been engaged in street level interventions to reduce gun violence in East Flatbush for more than a decade,” the Brooklyn DA continued. “They have an impressive track record of success and have offered to share that experience and knowledge with other Clergy Councils and our community in order to help us reduce gun violence across Brooklyn.”
Monrose, who was born and raised in the US Virgin Islands of St. Lucian parentage, said, “Clergy Councils have long served as a liaison between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“By building on this collective of clergy leaders, and growing on this collective of comprehensive, community plan to decrease young people’s involvement in crime and gun violence, while providing support to victims of violence, this partnership will embody a holistic, multi-pronged approach with the help of our very diverse Brooklyn clergy,” he said.
As part of the program, the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, located in East Flatbush, will provide strategic, supportive and technical assistance to neighboring Clergy Councils in the 69th Precinct (Canarsie), 70th Precinct (Flatbush), 71st Precinct (Crown Heights), 73rd Precinct (Brownsville), 75th Precinct (East New York), 77th Precinct (Crown Heights) 79th Precinct (Bedford Stuyvesant), 81st Precinct (Bedford Stuyvesant), 83rd Precinct (Bushwick) and 90th Precinct (Williamsburg).
Gonzalez said that extended program will introduce a strategic and valuable relationship with his office that will aim to decrease gun violence and youth involvement in the justice system through street-level intervention, victim services, clergy care, social support services and the Flatbush Leadership Academy.
The DA’s Office will utilize the Clergy Councils in several ways, such as: referring young participants in diversion programs with mentorship opportunities and other forms of support; flagging local disputes among our youth that can benefit from clergy intervention; offering internship and work opportunities to graduates of the Leadership Academy; prioritizing community-based programs as alternatives to incarceration; and, among other items, offering supportive assistance to victims.
Gonzalez said it is the ultimate goal of this partnership to reduce the violence in Brooklyn’s communities.
“Gun violence and the loss of life have a significant and traumatic effect on families and the communities in which they live,” he said.
“Coordination between strong clergy leadership, and the sharing of responsibility for public safety with the District Attorney’s Office, local precincts and Precinct Clergy Councils, help us return power to our communities, help us achieve significant declines in crime, back to historic lows throughout areas that are experiencing endemic violence in Brooklyn and, by extension, New York City,” Gonzalez said.