In its latest push to contain a recent surge in violent crime in the Bronx and other outerboroughs, New York City is spending nearly $2 million to deploy "mobile trauma units" featuring counselors and peacekeepers - or what the city calls "violence interrupters" - to try and calm worried locals and work with local gangs to try and reduce incidences of violence, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The buses will begin making their rounds in January 2019 as they seek to provide "trauma relief" in neighborhoods that are begging for relief of a different kind (namely, from crime). Though we imagine the ex-gang members the buses will deploy as counselors trying to convince street criminals to "do the right thing" and turn straight will be equally as effective as a few more cops on the beat.
But as one councilwoman who pushed for the "mobile trauma units" reminds us, tending to the "emotional well-being" of crime victims and their families is a task for which police are ill-suited. The issue has received far more attention in the wake of the death of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz, a 15 year old who was dragged out of a bodega by gang members and fatally stabbed with knives and a machete last month after he was mistaken for somebody else.
"A lot of people don’t realize once the funeral is over, once the candles stop burning, once the media is gone, people are still suffering, people are still afraid," said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, the former chair of the City Council’s public safety committee who pushed for the initiative.
Fortunately for the pols that supported this strategy, one criminal justice expert told WSJ that the van likely won't be successful in reducing retaliatory gang violence, and that, as with any "preventative strategy, measuring the program's success could be difficult.
"They’re going to try to stop retaliation. The claim will be since they intervened, there was no retaliation action," Mr. O’Donnell said.
"As with any preventive strategy, it’s going to be hard in this case to prove if they’ve actually had any success."
But that's okay. Because as the WSJ points out, one of the ancillary purposes of the program is to "job and educational opportunities" to residents in these neighborhoods. In other words, it's thinly-veiled political patronage, brought to you by Democratic Party of New York City.