Can NYC's next mayor be both pro-police & pro-community violence intervention?
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In 2014, then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched what would become the nation’s largest city-coordinated gun violence prevention effort — one that doesn’t involve policing. The city’s Crisis Management System, as it’s known, now operates in 22 neighborhoods across the city, partnering with more than 50 community-based organizations and nonprofits. Last year, the system had a budget of more than $42 million, and the funding is expected to grow.

Now, Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, who is all but assured to beat his Republican challenger next month, is poised to take over City Hall — and with it, the Crisis Management System.

During the primary, Adams positioned himself as the candidate in favor of more law enforcement. Promises to beef up subway patrols, institute task forces to crack down on “gangs and guns,” and reinstitute a plainclothes anti-crime unit drew criticism from those on the left. When he won his spot on the ticket, propelled by his popularity in the city’s outer boroughs — and many of the city’s majority-Black neighborhoods — it was seen as a de facto rejection of the “defund the police” movement.

But like many Democratic figures who skew closer to the political center, Adams’s gun violence plans are more complicated than they might seem.

“We have to change the ecosystem of public safety,” Adams said last week at a press conference, promising investments in the city’s public housing — and a boost to the Crisis Management System. “We thought it was only police. And now we’re showing that there’s a new ecosystem.”

Adams has backed President Joe Biden’s $5 billion plan to fund community-based gun violence prevention efforts like those within the CMS, most of which use the Cure Violence approach. It’s a model that relies on treating gun violence as a public health issue — which, in theory, doesn’t have to conflict with Adams’s stance that more police are necessary to enforce public safety.

So despite Adams’s habit of leaning into his pro-police reputation, some progressive anti-violence leaders are keeping an open mind that he’ll be supportive of their efforts as well. Adams’s approach is a “both-and” strategy, experts told me.

“He’s the new style of police candidate, which means he’ll look for those social phenomena that are subject to short-term mitigation,” one criminal justice expert said. “Housing and food are two classic examples. Those are not considered classic public safety issues, but they drive crime.”

You can read more about Adams’s plans for New York’s alternative public safety strategies in my latest for The Trace. —Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow

WHAT TO KNOW THIS WEEK

A new study from UC Davis's Violence Prevention Research Program found evidence for a higher risk of gun suicide among male handgun buyers who had alcohol-related offenses. The study’s lead author says the findings could be used to inform clinical interventions, like counseling patients about safe firearm storage. [If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.]

The federal government will participate in oral arguments next month in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. The nation’s acting solicitor general joins New York in defending against an NRA-backed challenge to the state’s vetting requirements for concealed gun permits.

Wisconsin will use $45 million in federal stimulus money for community violence intervention and victims’ support services. The Office of Violence Prevention in Milwaukee, where homicides hit their highest-ever level last year, is slated to receive $8 million.

Harris County, where Houston is located, will spend $50 million on beautification efforts that have been shown to correlate with lower gun violence, including cleaning vacant lots, planting trees, and funding home repairs on private residences.

California allotted $10 million for state sheriffs to seize weapons from prohibited purchasers, an attempt to clear a 24,000-person backlog of yet-to-be-recovered guns from the state’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System.

Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase have all halted their municipal bond underwriting business lines in Texas. That’s because of a new law that blocks state and local governments from giving contracts to banks with policies that limit business ties to the firearms industry.

About two-thirds of people generally oppose officers responding to demonstrations with arrests, tear gas or rubber bullets, or using riot gear, according to a survey published in the journal Criminology. But violence by protesters, or armed demonstrators, increased respondents’ fears about unchecked protests, and led them to express more support for some harsher police control tactics.

Albuquerque rolled out a new standalone department with a multimillion-dollar budget that sends social workers and mental health experts to calls of people in crisis. A staff member noted, “We don’t have a badge and a gun. We have water and snacks.” In its first month of operations, the department fielded an average of nine calls a day, the city said this week.

North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, an NRA board member, refused to resign after video surfaced of him making bigoted remarks about LGBTQ+ communities at a church in June.
FROM OUR TEAM

A rising star in the gun industry has a change of heart. In the latest installment of Ricochet, our series on the many ways gun violence has touched individuals’ lives, Ryan Busse, a former executive at prestige gunmaker Kimber America, tells Ann Givens about his political about-face. After the Columbine shooting, in which the perpetrators used a Kimber gun, Busse started to shift his views. His skepticism deepened when the NRA ditched its position on the conservation of public lands — a core belief of many pro-gun hunters — because, as Busse says, it was politically expedient. After more high-profile mass shootings and prompting from his wife, Busse took a more active role in opposing the movement he once did so much to support. He resigned from Kimber last year, became an adviser at the gun reform group Giffords, and is bracing for the fallout when his memoir, Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America, publishes next week.
IN MEMORIAM

Tanajwa McMurray, 31, was fatally shot at her home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on October 11. Her live-in boyfriend was charged with first-degree murder. She was five months pregnant with his child; the baby did not survive. McMurray spent her career in law enforcement and emergency response, first as a correctional officer and most recently as a 911 dispatcher. “She would always sacrifice a lot of things for her siblings [and] sacrifice a lot of stuff for her family,” her mother told a local news outlet. “She gave me smiles, she gave me joy.” McMurray is survived by a daughter.
MAY WE RECOMMEND

This podcast discussion on the politics of guns and race in America. Stephen Gutowski of The Reload hosts The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer in this wide-ranging conversation about the complicated and contested legacies of racism and guns in America. Serwer lays out a particularly acute dilemma for Black communities and progressives: “Because of the way the American criminal justice works, there’s an expectation on the left that any kind of law that you pass is ... more likely to be enforced against Black people than white people, because Black communities are more heavily policed. So on the one hand, Black voters strongly support gun control because they — Black communities, Black neighborhoods — tend to bear the brunt of gun violence. At the same time, there’s this issue of Black people who are simply trying to protect themselves, who end up getting prosecuted under gun laws ... So you have this competing interest.”
PULL QUOTE

“Guns are inherently dangerous. And just because we’re gun experts doesn’t mean that we’re immune from the bad things that guns can do.”

—Ryan Busse, speaking to The Trace’s Ann Gi


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