The weather is getting warmer in New York City, to what should be the delight of everyone. Sadly, in some of our communities, rising temperatures always seem to correlate with rising tempers, which too often leads to rising body counts in our streets. Even as our city’s murder rate continues its historic decline under Mayor Bill de Blasio, we are seeing shooting numbers beginning to climb in some areas, both in the number of incidences and the number of victims.
There is no question that we must tackle this terrible trend head-on, led by the men and women of New York’s Finest. Intensifying actions against negative gang activity, such as the work being done under the Operation Crew Cut program, is a key component. So is stop-and-frisk, when used in the appropriate and lawful dosage; thankfully, under the leadership of Commissioner Bill Bratton, the tide has turned significantly toward emphasizing the quality, not the quantity, of stops.
These are two of several actions the NYPD has taken and will continue to take. However, I believe it is time overdue that we focus on our communities and their responsibility in stemming gun violence, especially parents. They must play a greater role in this conversation, in addition to the hard work already being done by the police. We don’t want over-excessive stop-and-frisk in the street, but you can stop-and-frisk in your own home. You have the right to ensure your children are not carrying illegal guns.
Back in 2011, when I was a state senator, I released a YouTube video on how parents should combat gun violence in their home by checking the room and belongings of their children for illegal weapons and drugs. The initial reaction by many was and continues to be one of surprise that a gun could be hidden in a pillowcase or a jewelry box.
For those of you who have not seen the video, I am asking you to go on YouTube and view it. If you have watched it, I ask for you to share it with a neighbor, relative or friend who is a parent and has not yet viewed it. There are too many parents who have not received this information, who do not know how easy and essential it is to know what is in their household. It is a parent’s responsibility to not only protect their child, but also to protect the other members of their family and the community from what comes from inside their home.
This is not the movies. These are real-life incidents that take place when a gun is discharged. Thirteen-year-old Gama Droiville nearly lost his life when he was shot in the eye with a stray bullet on an East Flatbush street corner. Thirty-nine-year-old Angel Rojas, a father of two, was far less fortunate; he was killed on a crowded bus in Bedford-Stuyvesant amidst a senseless gang rivalry. What are we doing to prevent the next victim from being someone we love?
I spent 22 years on New York City’s streets wearing a bulletproof vest, protecting children and families from senseless gun violence. Now that I’ve traded my blue uniform for a blue suit, my responsibility to our collective public safety remains the best. I hope every parent will join me in accepting this collective charge.