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Teen-powered website will allow South Bronx residents to submit tips about neighborhood crime

11/30/2017, 4:11 p.m.
South Bronx youths are about to make the neighborhood a whole lot safer with the introduction of a website that ...
Phipps Bulldogs (Sydasia Stephens, 13, Christopher Rhem, 13 and Daniel Nunez, 14) Contributed

South Bronx youths are about to make the neighborhood a whole lot safer with the introduction of a website that will allow users to anonymously submit tips about crime and safety concerns in the neighborhood.

The website, called Community Watch, is part of an effort to address safety issues in an area that has seen almost 1,400 crimes this year. Community Watch is being created by members of the Phipps Neighborhoods Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs, a group of teens who are part of the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in the Bronx.

“This has been a way to show that kids can take an initiative,” said Yeremi Rosario, a program coordinator at the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center. “We’ve seen a rise of teens bettering and helping the community.”

The Bulldogs are creating the website after receiving a $2,000 grant as a finalist at The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young Rally. The website will enable users to anonymously and easily submit tips related to crime and safety.

The website is an expansion from the Bulldogs’ current Community Watch Project, which has a telephone hotline that is receiving as many as eight tips from neighborhood residents per day, Rosario said. The hotline is part of a partnership between the Bulldogs and New York Police Department’s 43rd Precinct.

Rosario said tips, which are all anonymous, include where drug dealers are dealing inside or outside buildings and intersections where there are a lack of safety crossing guards for students heading to school.

Rosario said dozens of teens—from fifth through 12th grades—are participating in the project, which is currently in the south portion of the Bronx. With the completion of the website, Rosario wants to expand to all of the Bronx and then the rest of New York’s five boroughs.

The grant money from The Allstate Foundation also is being utilized to purchase kits that include T-shirts with the Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs logo and directions of how to use the website. Those kits will be distributed at the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in addition to four other South Bronx community centers. Rosario said that will allow the South Bronx to build a network of residents who can submit crime and safety tips on the website.

Phipps Neighborhoods “provides children, youth and families in low-income neighborhoods the opportunities they need to thrive through comprehensive education and career programs, and access to community services,” according to their website. Their comprehensive network of programs serves more than 12,000 children, teens and adults each year in targeted communities.

According to the NYC crime website, the 43rd Precinct has had 1,369 crimes from Jan. 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2017. That represents approximately 7.9 crimes per 1,000 residents. In August 2017, there were 218 crimes, including 58 felony assaults, 77 grand larcenies, 45 robberies, 16 grand larcenies of motor vehicles and three rapes.

Rosario said the hotline has made the neighborhood safer and expects the website to improve the South Bronx exponentially. “We’re going to fight violence and crime,” Rosario said. “I’m excited to see how this program will continue to evolve.”

For more information on Phipps Neighborhoods Sonia Sotomayor Bulldogs, visit http://www.phippsneighborhoods.org/.

For more information on The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young initiative, visit www.allstatefoundation.org/goodstartsyoung.