Stand Up To Violence program celebrates one-year anniversary

A program that addresses violence on the streets just reached a milestone.

The Stand Up to Violence Program, funded jointly by the Division of Criminal Justice Services and Senator Jeff Klein, and administered by Jacobi Medical Center, celebrated its one-year anniversary of operations in August.

The program gathers information from people who are admitted to Jacobi for gunshot trauma, stabbed or assaulted.

It then uses that data to send ‘violence interrupters’ to high-risk areas in the 49th Precinct and the 47th Precinct to work with individuals who may be prone to further violence and to calm tensions, said program director Erika Mendelsohn.

“(The program) has people who go into areas where there are gangs and guns, and it stops violence before it even happens,” she said, explaining that violence interrupters serve as mediators where there is conflict on the streets, getting to the root of potential issues and speaking to involved parties to hash out a solution.

The information gathered is not shared with police, said Mendelsohn, adding that SUV focuses on individuals who have one or several risk factors for violence.

These include having been recently incarcerated or involved in a violent incident, being between the ages of 16 and 24 and having a history of gang activity.

SUV currently operates in a catchment area in the 47th and 49th precincts, roughly along White Plains Road, and on part of Allerton Avenue, as well as along other corridors in the northeast part of the borough.

It is expanding into the 43rd Precinct as well, with funding provided by Senator Klein.

Senator Klein said that he believes the program is having a positive effect.

The senator has been a strong advocate for gun safety and control legislation, but he has been a part of the SUV program since its inception because it provides a local approach to stopping gun violence with people ‘on the ground’ to help, he said.

“I wanted to do something different, and certainly SUV is something different in that it is more about education,” said Klein. “It is a program that has people on the ground, facilitators (violence interrupters) who go into areas where there is gun violence.”

The senator said he was particularly impressed by the work of the people who go out in the streets with the information obtained at the hospital, adding that Jacobi Medical Center has been a good partner for this effort.

In addition to ongoing work at Jacobi Medical Center in working with trauma victims, every time there is a shooting or other act of violence, the program holds a march, rally or vigil, said Mendelsohn. SUV also conducts public outreach programs.

Recently SUV held a march and rally, as well as a one-year celebration that included a family day, in Mazzei Playground in Allerton, on Saturday, August 22.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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