Courtney Bennett will direct the Manhattan District Attorney’s Harlem community office starting Feb. 6. The lifelong Harlemite most recently served as the executive director of One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York.
Bennett is also a former teacher and worked at local organizations like the Boys Choir of Harlem and the NY Mission Society’s Minisink Townhouse. He said his decision to move out of the nonprofit world into the public sector largely stems from the opportunity to assist Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a fellow Harlemite.
“I’m hoping that my experience in having open door policies will be used to have folks come in from different sectors, whether they’re young people, seniors, clergy, [or] folks with housing concerns,” said Bennett. “And I don’t want folks to just come when they have concerns because we need to make sure the D.A. understands what people are thinking about safety before something happens.”
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He mentions his experience with Operation SNUG and the city’s Cure Violence model, which preemptively addresses gun violence through engaging with at-risk youth and settling disagreements long before a firearm can be picked up. Such work expands outside of just police involvement and frequently requires clergy, local business owners, and credible messengers.
“Courtney Bennett is a wonderful addition to the District Attorney’s Office,” said Bragg. “As a Harlemite, Courtney has a deep understanding of the community’s rich history and needs. His wide-ranging experience, from teaching to non-profit work, and focus on anti-violence initiatives, makes him an asset and resource that Harlem can take pride in, and reflects his commitment to ensuring Manhattan is a safer and fairer borough. I look forward to working with Courtney and can’t wait for the rest of the neighborhood to do the same.”
According to the Manhattan D.A.’s website, the office provides assistance for domestic violence and immigration fraud. Linda Janneh is formerly the director. Linda Janneh is formerly the director.
Bennett will be working out of the Harlem State Office Building on 125th Street and 7th Avenue. The branch initially opened in 1987 and was meant to serve the entire uptown population before Bragg’s predecessor Cy Vance opened another location in Washington Heights in 2015.
“It’s also important to know that the office is not going to be solely focused on Central Harlem, that East and West Harlem are just as important and each faces its own issues as cultures are slightly different across the board,” Bennett added. “And there are many different types of people living in Harlem. The office is open for all people that live in Harlem, regardless of race, creed, color, and so on. So I want folks to know that I am moving with the D.A.’s priorities and that we’re here to serve everyone in the community.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The article previously said Linda Janneh is currently the director, per the D.A. website. According to an office spokesperson, the position is currently open.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.
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