YONKERS, N. Y. (CBSNewYork) – Gang crime is increasing in Yonkers.
However, the city's mayor and police commissioner has 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 is considering moving back.
"I don't want to see my young people killed anymore. Since I've lived here … a lot of murders," said Deanda.
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Just last week, Deanda's friend was fatally shot and killed outside a deli near her home on Ashburton Avenue. According to police, the Yonkers shootings have increased by 60% this year, 57% of which are gang related.
According to the police, violence against gangs or groups has increased by 30% this year compared to the same time in 2019.
"I think it's a combination of older gang members who unfortunately acknowledge the fact that they can exploit younger children who are very impressionable, 15 and 16 years old to carry a gun," said John Mueller, Yonkers Police Commissioner.
"I think people just don't care anymore," added one resident.
"It really breaks my heart," added Deanda.
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On Thursday afternoon, Mayor Mike Spano and Commissioner Müller announced a new anti-group violence initiative to end the surge in gang-related activity.
"Yonkers does not tolerate this type of crime," said Spano.
The plan provides for an increased police presence with uniformed foot patrols, K-9 support units, community affairs and open and covert surveillance. A mobile police command center will be set up in areas with high crime rates. The Yonkers Police Gang Unit forms a task force with local and federal authorities.
The YMCA and local school districts are also stepping up to prevent idle young children from getting into trouble.
"Certainly, COVID-19 affects crime everywhere," said Yonkers Schools superintendent Edwin Quezada. "It is our responsibility as adults in the community to find positive ways to channel their energy."
“They need something to look forward to. You see no hope, ”added Deanda.
She hopes the new initiative will change that.
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