March 15, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The city is launching a new community-based pilot program to prevent gun violence in five precincts across the city–including the Queens precinct where a 37-year-old woman was killed Friday by a stray bullet.
The program, called the Advance Peace Model, will start in July and pair at-risk youth with individual mentors who will counsel them and help them achieve higher goals, such as obtaining a GED.
The pilot will begin in one precinct per borough, with the 114th Precinct that covers Astoria and sections of Long Island City and Woodside being selected for Queens.
The announcement, made today by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at a press briefing, follows a deadly weekend in the city and a spike in the number of shootings over the past year.
On Friday night, in the 114th Precinct, a 37-year-old mother of two was killed by a stray bullet near the Woodside Houses.
“We lost some people just this weekend — Gudelia Vallinas, 37, hit by a stray bullet in Queens,” Williams said during the press briefing. “These stories are too common; I can’t begin to imagine… the pain that family is dealing with right now and we’ve seen and felt that pain over and over and over again.”
Williams said that the rise in gun violence is a public health crisis. The city, he said, must invest in the marginalized communities to support residents and prevent violence.
“We have to implement strategies that support community safety, treat community trauma and build community strength,” he said.
Through the pilot, the city will conduct outreach efforts in areas with high levels of gun violence to identify at-risk youth. Those individuals will then be invited to join the Peacemaker fellowship which pairs the young people with mentors in the neighborhood.
The fellowship will set tangible goals for participants, such as obtaining a driver’s license or getting their GED. When they obtain a goal, they’ll receive a monetary stipend through the program.
The city is shaping the program after the Advance Peace Model launched in California. A study of the model implemented in Sacramento showed a 27 percent reduction in gun violence in the program’s catchment area over two years.
The pilot will also be launched in the 46th Precinct in the Bronx, the 26th Precinct in Manhattan, the 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn and the 120th Precinct in Staten Island.
De Blasio said if the Advance Peace model proves successful in the pilot precincts, the city will expand it further to additional precincts.
“Policing matters, but the work of community members matters crucially and it needs to be elevated and uplifted,” he said. “It needs to be more about the part of the solution.”