YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gang-related crime is on the rise in Yonkers.
But the city’s mayor and police commissioner have launched a new program to stop the violence and prevent children from getting involved, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Thursday.
Kathy Deanda said she moved to Yonkers five years ago to escape a high-crime neighborhood in Harlem. But now she’s considering moving back.
“I don’t want to see no more of my young people getting killed. Since I been living here … a lot of murders,” Deanda said.
Just last week, a friend of Deanda’s was fatally shot outside a deli near her home on Ashburton Avenue. Police said shootings in Yonkers have increased 60% this year, with 57% of them gang related.
Police said gang or group violence is up 30% this year to date, compared to the same time in 2019.
“I think it is a combination of older gang members, unfortunately, recognizing the fact that they can exploit younger kids that are very impressionable, 15 and 16 years old to carry a gun,” Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller said.
“I think people just don’t care no more,” one resident added.
“It really breaks my heart,” Deanda added.
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On Thursday afternoon, Mayor Mike Spano and Commissioner Mueller announced a new anti-group violence initiative to end the spike in gang-related activity.
“Yonkers does not tolerate this type of crime,” Spano said.
The plan includes increased police presence with uniformed foot patrols, K-9 support units, community affairs, and overt and covert surveillance. A mobile police command center will be posted in high-crime neighborhoods. The Yonkers Police Gang Unit is forming a task force with local and federal authorities.
The YMCA and local school districts are also stepping up to prevent young, idle children from getting into trouble.
“Certainly COVID-19 is impacting crimes all over,” Yonkers Schools Superintendent Edwin Quezada said. “It is our responsibility as the adults in the community to find positive outlets for them to channel their energy.”
“They need something to look forward to. They don’t see no hope,” Deanda added.
She’s hoping the new initiative will change that.
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