NYPD and Brooklyn Grandmothers Celebrate Contributions and Collaboration
The NYPD partnered with several Brooklyn clergy leaders in 2010 to create a coalition to reduce gun violence and save lives. (Related: http://on.nyc.gov/19jrIwd) Part of the coalition's 10-point plan was a grandmother's empowerment group, in recognition of the fact that often, grandmothers are the ones left caring for children whose parents are killed or lost to other circumstances.
On July 24, some 50 grandmothers gathered at Police Headquarters with the Police Commissioner and organizers, to be recognized for their contributions at an appreciation breakfast, followed by a tour.
Remarks of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Bishop A.D. Lyons and NYPD Chief of Housing Joanne Jaffe follow.
Police Commissioner Kelly:
There is a saying, “You should listen to your grandmother; they are the wisdom of the past, role models of the present and open doors to the future.”
We are so happy you are here. You have been such an important part of the police clergy liaison program in Brooklyn. We thank you for your membership. Thank you for opening those doors to the young people that you care for, the young people you are making safer, both the ones in your immediate family and others as well. I want to thank people here for their leadership, for their guidance of this important program. I want to thank Rev. Cheryl Anthony, Rev. Stephanie Bethea, and Mary Washington for all of their help. Really, they have been a tremendous importance behind this program. Of course, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank Chief Joanne Jaffe for everything, Inspector Juanita Holmes, Deputy Inspector Lola Obe, and Shalawn Langhorne.
As you may recall, two years ago members of the Brooklyn Clergy came to the Police Department, led by Bishop Lyons and said “What can we do together? What can we do collaboratively to address the issue of crime in our neighborhoods?” We came together in a month’s time, and structured a 10-point program. One of the most important parts of that program was our grandmother’s outreach, our Love Over Violence program. The clergy helped us identify grandmothers who were primary caregivers, who were committed to a safer community, who wanted to improve the community, and who wanted to be allies with the Police Department.
We see how important that relationship is when we see spikes in crimes and shootings we’ve seen lately. Especially, that horrendous event that happened to Lloyd Martin, the four-year-old boy shot down. He never even went to nursery school, four years of age. I can tell you we are speaking to someone. We have someone who has admitted to having a gun there and firing shots. A 17-year-old man, which compounds the problem.
We are fortunate to have you as partners in our crucial mission to do everything we can to make this city safer.
I know you have been coming together for the last two years on the fourth Tuesday of every month. I’ve been to those meetings, they are inspirational. I always feel better after I leave. You’ve had some excellent speakers; their whole goal was to give you tools to help the community improve. You’ve had speakers from the DA’s office, Department of Health; Tonya Williams, an inspirational speaker; members of the Department, personnel with a variety of things – gang awareness, youth camps. The whole purpose was to give you additional tools to help you assume some leadership positions in your community. Every time I’ve gone there I can feel the energy and excitement in the room. Perhaps the most important product is the bonding between all of you. You have created your own network, that network has been reinforced by Chief Jaffe and all of her assistants, police officers who I want to name. As I said, Inspector Juanita Holmes, Commanding Officer of the 81st Precinct, Deputy Inspector Lola Obe, Commanding Officer of Police Service Area 3; also Captain Maria Ferina-Jiacalone, Detectives Traza Castro, Detective Izora Neal, Detective Mary Petrizzo and Police Officer Sabrina Kennedy of Police Service Area 1 -- they are all there to answer phones, to help you in planning, to help you come to the assistance of people in need.
This morning what we are going to do is present you with a certificate in recognition of your participation. Chief Jaffe is going to give you a very nice pin and we are going to give you a tour, sort of like inside baseball, or inside the policing. We are going to take you to the Real Time Crime Center, Joint Operations Center and show you some other aspects of policing, you being inside the building.
Let me just thank you again for your participation. Thank you for your courage in standing up for what is right. You know you are making a difference. We can see the difference in Brooklyn. Things are getting better in Brooklyn and in no small way is it the factor and result of the Police-Clergy Coalition. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for being here.
Now I am going to ask Bishop Lyons to say a few words.
I think at this point in time, if I’m in order and I believe I am, I’m entitled to my belief. I think we should stand and give Mr. Kelly a standing ovation. I have been in New York since ’46, pastoring. He is the first Chief that I have been able to hug. I hug him for a reason, because I believe in frisking. I want to start at the head and frisk down.
I thank God for Mr. Kelly. He is the greatest leader that New York can have. Now I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, you have to think about leadership. What will happen if leadership fails? I think that is what is happening now with New York and Colorado and other part of the country.
So what I have been touched to do, starting this Sunday at 11am, we are going to take the church to the streets because the streets don’t believe in coming to the church. So we are going to take it to them.
There is enough space for everybody. It’s a job everybody needs to be involved in. We are hoping to make August the month we are going to condemn crime all over the nation. Not just Brownsville, not just Brooklyn but all over the world.
I believe what happened in Colorado the other day; copycats are being born and we have to be careful of who we welcome. We don’t want this to happen but it can happen sometimes. You don’t know how near it is to you until it does happen.
Let us continue to pray and support one another. Don’t get upset with someone who is doing something you don’t like what they are doing; just move over to the other side of the street. There is room. There is room and time, so invite everybody who can and let’s start Sunday morning at 11am. Come out, let’s make the devil mad.
Chief of Housing Joanne Jaffe:
Welcome to Police Headquarters. It’s a joy and a pleasure to have all you grandmothers and great-grandmothers, all the clergy and the press here together to see what really goes on in the New York City Police Department and in the street. It’s not all bad.
In November 2010, we came together as a group of separate individuals, Police Department personnel, clergy grandmothers, great-grandmothers and we went into what was for me a strange church. I had never been in that church before. We said we wanted to put together a group a collaborative group. Here, I have our first program. Many of you saved it. We have a poem to the grandmothers inside it.
Our mutual goal was to see what we can do both personally and collectively to stop the violence in our homes and in our communities. We’ve been together for almost two years and boy we have come a far way, from complete strangers to extended family. Is that not true? Together we have laughed and cried, we have listened and we have talked, and we have shared and supported one another. We have opened our minds and our bodies and our souls and we have talked about difficult and painful issues. We’ve talked about child abuse, domestic abuse. People stood up and said “I am the victim; this has happened to me,” sexual abuse and sexuality in our households. We’ve talked about health issues, violence, guns, and even loneliness that exist out there. Many people spoke about the violence. We’ve opened our arms to each other. When we heard of a terrible incident that happened to Mrs. Peace - welcome here - when her daughter was killed in October 2011 hovering over a child, protecting a child from gunfire. She is now left raising all of her grandchildren.
When I look at all of you I see strong, empowered, united women. We play a critical role in both your families and our Brooklyn communities. Our commitment from the New York City Police Department is to continue the grandmother’s breakfasts, to continue the support networks we created together, to grow, to nurture, and to be there for one another and to work to stop the violence in our communities. Love over violence.