Brownsville Policing Pilot Program Considers Expansion into Bed-Stuy

Cornegy at 109 Lewis Avenue
City Councilman Robert Cornegy announced today that he is working on bringing a pilot policing program that pulls cops off the street to Bed-Stuy. Photo by Ariama C. Long

City Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) said today he is currently working with Bed-Stuy police precincts –  the 77th, 79th, and 81st –  to consider adopting the community policing pilot program that was launched in Brownsville’s 73rd Precinct last month.

The five-day policing experiment pulled police away from the main corridors along Mother Gaston Boulevard in Brownsville and replaced them with cure violence groups, community organizations, and city agencies collectively called the Brownsville Safety Alliance, reported The City. They set up information booths as cops withdrew from their regular posts.

The move to bring the initiative to Bed-Stuy comes as the district has been no stranger to the rash of gun violence that hit during last year’s health crisis. 

City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr
Assemblywoman Latrice Walker

Cornegy mentioned the heartbreaking death of one-year-old Davell Gardner Jr., who died after being shot in the stomach while sitting in his stroller last July on Madison Street in Bed-Stuy, reported CBS NY.

Corney and Borough President Eric Adams moved to have police, various anti-gun violence, and outreach groups set up at Malcolm X Boulevard and Chauncey Street in response to two fatal shootings last November.

And, recently on January 6, 2021, Brooklyn District Attorney (DA) Eric Gonzalez indicted gang members on 77 counts including two murders and nine shootings, which prompted Cornegy to visit the site of one of those shootings in the territory of the 900 gang last week, said the DA’s office.

Meanwhile, the 73rd Precinct’s Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes pledged to continue the program, and it has since received positive feedback in its short lifespan. Statistically speaking, the 73rd has had one reported shooting victim and incident in the last week and three in the last 28 days.

“The Brownsville Safety Alliance is a model community policing example. Many people speak about the ideals of ‘Defund the Police,’ but we showed how providing access to resources and conflict mediation can work as a first line of defense to address conflicts,” said Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville) about the community policing program last week. 

Walker has been an advocate for the program since it’s beginning. 

“Antiquated policing tactics just don’t work anymore – we need progressive ideas to address new-age problems. The police were the police and they protected and served and recognized that so many of the situations needed social workers to avoid escalation. Social workers and the police can co-exist and not conflict,” she added.

Cornegy said that it will be a trial basis when implemented, but he is admittedly hesitant while being hopeful. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated all problems across the board, from gun violence to food insecurity and homelessness, which is up,” said Cornegy. “It’s hard to imagine pulling police back when a one-year-old was shot here, but we’re looking to give it a try.” 

More from Around New York