The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence (OPGV) serves as a coordinating agency, linking City initiatives, community-based non-profit organizations, and everyday New Yorkers to partner in creating healthy, vibrant communities and addressing the causes and traumas of gun violence in 21 sites throughout New York City. The way OPGV operates is unique in city government. Community engagement, defined as a true partnership with the people and organizations most affected by gun violence, is at the center of OPGV’s approach.
Our mission is to transform government’s approach to justice by supporting vibrant communities where residents are empowered to co-create public safety.
We believe that community voice and agency are required for public safety solutions, that public safety solutions must be grounded in racial equity, and change is possible with love, healing, and respect.
We achieve this by engaging with communities as equal partners, scaling up community-based solutions, connecting networks and organizations to multiply impact linking organizations and individuals to multiply impact, fostering capacity-building for community organizations, and supporting local leaders to gain access to decision-making.
We practice this by elevating community voice, engaging in mutual information sharing, investing community-led solutions, amplifying existing community networks, and facilitating linkages between communities and city agencies.
Transform government’s approach to public safety and justice around an understanding of historic root causes of inequity, the need for healing rather than punishment, and respect for the deep knowledge and strength that resides in communities most affected by a myriad of institutions and systems, including the justice system:
… to participate in the creation of safe, vibrant, empowered, and interconnected communities in New York City, and
… to bolster a sense of community ownership of solutions for the problems associated with justice system involvement, heightened risk of trauma, and structural disinvestment, particularly within communities of color.
Community voice and agency are required for public safety solutions. Diverse voices and community representation in decision-making are essential to addressing public safety problems and solutions. Communities most affected by gun violence house deep wells of talent, knowledge, and ideas to bring forth solutions to end gun violence.
Public safety and justice system responses must be grounded in racial equity and restoration, requiring an understanding of root causes and created conditions that lead to inequity and violence, as well as the need for healing rather than punishment.
Change is possible with love, healing, and respect. All New Yorkers have the right to be safe and to feel safe in their communities. Engaging with love and empathy leads to anti-violence approaches that center healing, kinship, and respect for fundamental human rights, instead of punishment.
The neighborhoods most affected by gun violence are often described through the perspective of deficit and need; yet, these are places that also house deep wells of resilience, leadership, and solutions for interconnected problems of concentrated poverty and violence.
Recognizing this strength, OPGV engages as equal partners with communities and scales up community-based solutions to respond to the causes and consequences of violence. OPGV works to connect networks, organizations, and individuals together in a supportive community across sectors with opportunities for growth and healing. The direct investment to foster capacity building of individuals and organizations leads to sustainable models of community leadershipand access to decision-making.
OPGV meets these long term goals for partnership and community-based solutions and leadership through strategic community engagement practices, which can be found across the spectrum of their initiatives. These strategies include:
Elevating community voice. OPGV makes space at the table for community members to speak directly to city government and the public, sharing perspectives on what the problems are, ideas for solutions, and what community needs are to support sustainable solutions.
Engaging in mutual information exchange. To be in partnership with community requires equitable exchange. Community partners bring experience, ideas, and relationships to inform OPGV strategy, while OPGV shares data, technological innovations, and resources in return.
Incubating community-led solutions and leadership via investments. Communities are rich with ideas for how to make neighborhoods more vibrant and equitable. OPGV directs strategic investments to provide a platform for community ideas and incubate the development of community solutions.
Amplifying the reach and organization of existing community initiatives. OPGV makes strategic investments to amplify existing community organizations and efforts engaged in violence reduction and empowerment efforts, providing resources and technical assistance to reach wider audiences, formalize their organizations, and build capacity to connect with additional potential resources in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Facilitating linkages and relationships between community and City agencies. OPGV actively brokers relationships between City government, grassroots groups and community leaders to break down siloes and to create direct access to resources and decision-making.