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The Community Affairs Unit  

 

The Community Affairs Unit serves as a liaison between the District Attorney and residents of Bronx County. The Office of the Bronx District Attorney makes itself more accessible to the public through community outreach in the form of speakers, tours of the courts, educational programs, participation in inter-agency committees, attendance at community meetings and consistent interaction with community residents, neighborhood leaders and others. This unit is also able to keep residents informed of the status of a given case as it progresses through the criminal justice system. Issues of importance to the community can be brought to the attention of the District Attorney for discussion and resolution by contacting:

Community Affairs
Barbara Robles-Gonzalez, Director
198 East 161st Street
Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 590-2272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bronx District Attorney’s Office also actively participates in a variety of programs and community activities to better serve the residents of the county.

CONCEPT (Creating Opportunities Necessary to Create Empowered Positive Teens):

The CONCEPT program is a life-skills curriculum that offers middle school children the opportunity to attain positive relationships with peers and authority figures, develop a realistic view of criminality and become better thinkers.   During an eighteen-week course, students receive classroom-instruction, engage in constructive dialogue/debate, and participate in diverse learning activities taught by qualified personnel from the Community Affairs Unit at the Office of the Bronx District Attorney.  The strategy of the CONCEPT program is to promote positive thinking and create behavioral changes through a unique combination of practicing life skills pertaining to real circumstances, cooperative learning, constructive dialogue, and role-playing. 

The topics of discussion are as follows:  law, decision-making, conflict resolution, problem solving, peer pressure, cyber bullying, anger management, gang affiliation, unlawful weapons, violence, substance abuse, community awareness and goal setting.   With continuous skills training and positive reinforcement, students will more than likely exhibit constructive-behavioral skills in practical situations.  The material and teaching method are appropriate for sixth-graders.  As a subsidiary of the curriculum, however, our office offers workshops tailored to children of grade levels 4-12 and parents. The subject matter of these workshops correlates with the themes of the sixth-grade curriculum.

The demand for sessions is increasing.  From January to December 2014, 3,606 participants (i.e., a combination of the 18-week sessions and student/adult workshops) took part in the program. In October 2014, the CONCEPT program expanded into new territory.  Our office began collaboration with the New York Archdiocese, bringing the 18-week curriculum to the middle schools of the Catholic community. That trial period was very successful.  Two hundred students from St. Ignatius, St. Luke’s, Holy Family and Holy Cross participated in the program.

Collectively, 250 students from Our Lady of Grace, St. Mary, St. John, and St. Gabriel are currently participating in the program.  The need for these workshops and classroom sessions within the public and Catholic school communities can be measured by the growing demand for the CONCEPT program.

Students meet with D.A. Clark during Law Day 2016, during which they have the opportunity to ask her and other members of the Bronx D.A. staff about the criminal justice system.

Project JUMP:

This mentoring program matches sophomores, juniors and seniors from the Law, Justice and Public Service Academy at Theodore Roosevelt High School with volunteers from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office on a one-to-one basis.

Students experience the work environment and learn about the functioning of the criminal justice system.

Youth Trial Advocacy Program (YTAP):

YTAP provides students with an opportunity to explore a career in law. Students from 11 Bronx high schools are divided into teams, and each team, working with an Assistant District Attorney, learns how to develop advocacy skills in preparation for the courtroom setting in a moot court competition. This program currently runs on a weekly basis from January through June.

 

Read To Me:

The Office of the Bronx District Attorney has partnered with the Marshall England Early Childhood Learning Centers to hold weekly reading sessions. Support staff and A.D.A.s volunteer each week to read storybooks to classrooms of children ranging in age from two to five-years-old.

 

The Adult Workshop Series:
Monthly adult workshops provide the District Attorney’s Office with an avenue to educate Bronx residents about various issues related to the criminal justice system. Recent workshops done with partner organizations including the IRS, the NYPD, the Department of Education and local banks, have been titled “After the Arrest,” “You Be the Judge,” “Safeguarding Your Child on the Internet,” “Perspectives on Protecting Your Identity,” “Gang Awareness,” “Domestic Violence,” “Knock-Offs: Theft of Intellectual Property” and “Sexual Assault.”  In an effort to bring the message to more people, during 2014, the Adult Workshop Series was taken on a “tour of the Bronx.”   Many of the workshops were done at community centers, community based organizations, homeowner associations and schools.

 

Inter-Agency Initiatives:

In realizing that crime prevention through education and outreach is not easily accomplished alone, the Office of the Bronx District Attorney has developed and maintained partnerships with other law-enforcement and government agencies to achieve our ultimate goal. Below is a list of examples where collaboration has worked:

Youth Forums - Youth Forums have been conducted at various NYCHA community centers in conjunction with the NYPD. Youths are engaged in interactive activities which foster open communication with law enforcement.  In the beginning of the sessions, many show signs of resistance to being in such close proximity with law enforcement. However, that has all changed by the end of the sessions.

Operation Gun Halt - This program is done in conjunction with the NYPD, the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, ATF, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Department of Probation and re-entry social service agencies.  It is based on the Chicago “Cease Fire” model developed by Tracey Meares. The Bronx is one of five sites selected to run this program in target neighborhoods in New York State. The aim is to reduce gun violence by devising content specific strategies through the identification of offender target populations which are most involved in gun violence in the 40th Precinct. Recently released parolees and probationers are invited once a month to discuss alternatives available to them.

Gun Buy Back Programs – Since 2009 this Office and NYPD have held gun buy backs at Bronx faith based organizations, the fifth such event took place in 2014.  More than 2,700 guns have been taken off the streets because of this collaboration.

PAL Play Streets and Teen Impact Centers - Along with the NYPD and the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor, since 2010 there have been six major drug gang “take downs” in the 44th and 46th Precincts. In conjunction with these efforts, our Offices have joined with PAL to run summer play streets, CONCEPT during the fall semester and a Teen Impact Center in the spring at an area middle school that is an evening safe haven for teens close to the location of these “take downs.” These initiatives are funded by asset forfeiture funds. In the 2011-12 school year the program operated in the 46th Precinct at IS 229.  In 2013 it operated in the 46th Precinct, and in 2014 it operated in the 44th Precinct at JHS 22.

 

Operation Weed & Seed - Once a federally funded program begun in the late 1990s to “weed out” from targeted neighborhoods drug trafficking, violent gang activities, and robbers, while at the same time “seed in” positive programs, the Office of the Bronx County District Attorney continued operating the program with “graduated” site status from the DOJ, within the confines of the 43rd Precinct.  The program was extended long after funding was discontinued, because of its popularity and success. 

Collaborations between the Bronx D.A.’s Office and the US Attorney, the Bronx Borough President’s Office, NYPD, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, the Bronx Lions Club, Parkchester Kiwanis Club, PEP Senior Center, local clergy, and many other community organizations, have provided invaluable service to the community and contributed to the dramatic drops in violent crime in those, and other, parts of the Bronx.

Operation Weed and Seed also indirectly generates money – every year, the program has operated a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in association with the IRS to provide free tax prep services for community members.  Trained volunteers prepare and electronically file returns that have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal tax refunds for members of the community – money that, in turn, gets spent at local businesses.