Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani
MAYOR'S MESSAGE
October 14, 1997


Combating Gangs and Drugs with Law Enforcement,
Intervention, and Education

by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

On October 8, I announced a new strategy to combat the growing problem of street gang violence. Even though New York City does not have the same severe street gang problem as many other American cities, it's important that we deal with this now, before it gets any larger.

The new strategies build on the coordinated street-gang crackdown initiated more than a year ago by Police Commissioner Safir. Equally important, they focus on enhancing preventative education among children and strengthening legislation in order to protect New Yorkers from the indiscriminate acts of violence perpetrated by criminal gangs.

The Board of Education and the NYPD will double the size of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program (GREAT) from 20 to 40 schools, and will develop additional anti-gang after-school programs.

Our public schools will implement a "no-tolerance" approach to street gang criminal activity that will include banning gang-related graffiti, banning the wearing of gang colors, establishing Gang Free School Zones in cooperation with the Police Department, drug-testing all school safety officers, reporting all street gang activity to the NYPD, precluding the mediation of street gang-related incidents by school personnel, and prohibiting the hiring of street gang members in any capacity.

On the legislative front, the City will propose an anti-gang legislative package which will, among other things, make it a crime to recruit new gang members into criminal street gangs and make it a crime for minors to possess a box-cutter for criminal purposes.

Our efforts to educate children about the dangers of gangs and dismantle street gangs using innovative tactics parallel our efforts to fight drug abuse. The battle against drug abuse starts with prevention and education of our children.

This must be complemented by aggressive law enforcement strategies and intelligent treatment programs. With all three components in place -- education, law enforcement, and treatment -- I am confident we will make unprecedented progress in fighting drug abuse and returning more and more New Yorkers to accountable lives.

Law Enforcement

The NYPD has made great progress in fighting drugs. Our 60 percent reduction in homicides since 1993 would simply be impossible without targeting drug dealers and getting them off our streets. And in 1996 the NYPD made an all-time high number of misdemeanor and felony drug arrests, and recorded a 51 percent increase in drug seizures and a 116 percent increase in drug currency seizures over 1993.

We must build on these successes, eradicating drugs from our neighborhoods and schools. Modeled after the successful drug enforcement initiatives currently at work in Brooklyn North and Northern Manhattan, we will target the South Bronx and Southeast Queens, committing over 1,000 uniformed officers to the task.

We will also immediately make Washington Square Park -- which has been allowed to be a symbol of unaccountability for over a decade -- a drug-free zone.

All New Yorkers must feel safe from the fear and intimidation that are so closely connected to drug abuse. The NYPD will expand its Drug Free School Zone program from 40 to 100 schools. And the Safe Corridor program, which gives children additional protection as they walk to and from school, will be doubled, to involve 240 schools.

City residents are encouraged to help in our anti-drug efforts by reporting drug activity in their neighborhoods to the NYPD's new 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline, 1-888-374-DRUG.

Treatment

Given the fact that the overwhelming majority of those arrested and imprisoned have some form of substance abuse problem, and given that those same individuals consumed over 60 percent of the nation's cocaine and heroin, we must provide appropriate treatment services in the criminal justice system. Treatment models already in place have shown promising results in reducing both drug dependency and recidivism.

The Department of Correction will increase the number of drug treatment beds available in the Department's Substance Abuse Intervention Division, and the Department of Probation will double its current residential drug treatment capacity.

Later this fall, the City, working in cooperation with the court system and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, will be opening a Drug Court in Manhattan to complement the Drug Court currently operating in Brooklyn. The court is expected to target 300 non-violent drug abusing defendants annually, and put them on the road to drug-free lives.

The prevailing wisdom among drug policy experts is that less than 25 percent of substance abusers ever seek treatment. Substance abusers must and will be held accountable for seeking treatment. If they do not, they run the risk of being arrested.

To ensure that those seeking treatment have access to information regarding available programs in or near their communities, we are creating a Drug Treatment Coordinator Unit within the Mayor's Office to track, through an electronic database, the capacity of programs on a daily basis, and make referrals to appropriate programs. Through a toll-free hotline, substance abusers will have access to this information at any time.

The Administration for Children Services (ACS) will team up with the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) to implement a program designed to provide substance abuse treatment services to mothers whose children have been placed in foster care.

Drug abuse is a mammoth and complex problem, but we are not afraid to confront it. Just as we have proven time and time again by turning around the most serious problems our City faced -- crime, welfare dependency, a public education system with no accountability, and a suffering economy -- we can rise to this challenge and build a better New York City for our children.

See also the Mayor's Address on Removing Drugs From Our Neighborhoods and Schools.



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