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Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative Says Outreach Has Contributed To Decrease In Shootings Amid Citywide Spike In Gun Violence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On the heels of a violent summer, the NYPD is preparing new tactics for Labor Day weekend.

With shootings up citywide, CBS2's Ali Bauman went to find a neighborhood where gun violence is on the decline to find out what may be working.

Avie Pope lives in Flatbush, one of the five Brooklyn precincts where gun violence has skyrocketed this summer.

"I'm scared, very scared for my life," she said. "I used to work at night and I stopped. I gave up my night job because when I come home on the train at night, it's not safe."

Citywide, there was a 166% increase in shooting incidents in August compared to the year before.

LINK: Tracking Shootings In New York City

In anticipation of violence this holiday weekend, the NYPD is adding foot patrols, particularly in central Brooklyn where more than a quarter of August's shootings took place.

"You'll see them in cars, you'll see them on foot, in uniform, and quite frankly, some members from other divisions may not in uniform," NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo said.

The NYPD has blamed this summer's crime spike in part on the nearly $1 billion in police budget cuts amid the pandemic and protests.

City Hall's plan of action is to work closely with local community groups they call violence interrupters.

"The number one best strategy for making sure people understand how to stay safe is hearing voices from their own community," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

RELATED STORY: Outreach Groups Citywide Receive Extra Cash, Resources As Summer Of Gun Violence Continues Across NYC

One example of this may be Coney Island, where the 60th Precinct has seen a 36% decrease in shootings this year, an anomaly in southern Brooklyn, where there's been a 340% increase.

"Gun violence is an illness, so we attack the illness by trying to engage the people that possibly may be involved," said Ronald Stewart, with the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative. "We do that through seminars, we go into the schools, but mostly we're in the street."

The Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative got state funding last year when the neighborhood was seeing an uptick in shootings. That money has helped to expand their counseling and educational programs since.

"It gave people a sense of community, a sense of unity and a sense of healing, so I think that played a role," Stewart said.

"We don't know if it's gonna work. We didn't know it was gonna work when it started, but we see now how many years later that it actually works and it's actually making a difference," said Connie Jones, with Urban Neighborhood Services.

The anti-violence group says it also helps that Coney Island is a relatively small neighborhood, so their outreach can be more targeted.

This weekend, the NYPD will also have special units out to make gun arrests. They will be in uniform but travel in unmarked cars.

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