Thursday, October 23, 2014

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"Cease Fire" Group Strives To Make East New York Safer

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TWC News: "Cease Fire" Group Strives To Make East New York Safer
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Following violence like this weekend's two house party shootings in Brooklyn, a special group in East New York is trying to keep the peace and prevent crime in the neighborhoods. NY1's Tetiana Anderson filed the following report.

They may not be police officers, but those who work for Cease Fire East New York are trying to prevent violence on the streets of Brooklyn.

"We're a public health approach to a public safety problem," said Andre Mitchell, the group's executive director.

After a fatal shooting in East New York left one dead and seven others wounded, the group's members say their mission, to persuade people to choose peace when conflict erupts, is badly needed.

"What happened last night or this morning will spill into our target area," said Mitchell at a recent Cease Fire meeting.

The group hits the streets every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night to do a lot of talking and listening.

"I'm known as a credible messenger, because in my 'hood, which is Unity Plaza, I have that respect," said Cease Fire worker Brother Tiz. "I can call these brothers in, if they're having issues with each other, to try to mediate that situation the best way I can."

It is a part of "Operation SNUG," a $4 million state-funded anti-violence program in 10 cities in New York State. City leaders say that "Operation SNUG," named for "guns" spelled backwards, is a working program.

"Every area that they've go to, the crime went down," said Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron.

But in August, program funding is set to be cut after only one year.

The outreach method used by Cease Fire in Brooklyn is actually modeled after a program of the same name out of Chicago, and it is one that has been adopted by cities across the country, including Baltimore, Phoenix and Philadelphia, and around the world.

"They're in South Africa, they're in Iraq with this same model," said Mitchell.

There are only nine paid Cease Fire employees in an area patrolled by hundreds of police officers, but they say their jobs are just as important and worth saving.

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