In reaction to the murder of 8-year old Leiby Kletzky last month, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes launched a new program called Safe Stop intended to protect and provide assistance for children, senior citizens and anyone who feels they're safety is at risk.
“Hopefully this program will save children,” Hynes said on Tuesday in front of Johnny’s Pizzeria in Sunset Park where he announced the new initiative. “We are always looking for ways to make Brooklyn safer.”
Among the 77 Safe Stop zones already part of the project, Sunset Park boasts the most with 45, Williamsburg on Graham Avenue with 19 and Park Slope, with 13 stops along Fifth Avenue. Hynes and the neighborhood representatives indicated there are plans to add more merchants to the list in the near future.
Most of the shops already involved run along Fifth Avenue, including Fifth Eye Optix, Scaredy Kat, Aguaya & Huebener Realty, El Sitio Borinquen, Joe Leopoldi's Hardware, and Timboo's Bar. A PDF of the full list from all three neighborhoods is attached.
Each merchant Safe Stop zone will boast a medium-sized window sticker to notify anyone in need of help, similar to the Safe Haven program of from the 1990s.
If someone comes into any of these stores in need of help the shop which range from small they will be directed to provide shelter and call 911 for any emergency that requires immediate medical, police or fire response.
“If someone is lost, has a medical emergency, or is a crime victim, they go into any of these Safe Stop locations where merchants will have all kinds of information and resources for they who need help,” Hynes said. “They will be trained to know where to refer people and how to help them.”
The shops will offer to provide shelter and call 911 for any emergency that requires immediate medical, police or fire response.
All representatives of the three neighborhoods currently participating were in attendance along with Betty Cooney, the Executive Director of the Graham Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) whom Hynes recognized for suggesting the program restart. Also in attendance was one of the 45 Sunset Park merchants, Johnny’s Pizzeria owner John Miniaci.
“Brooklyn is the first step. Next is the nation,” Miniaci said.
Hynes went on to add that most of the responsibility to get the word outto the public will depend on neighborhood BID leaders. However, the DA’s office will also take part in an additional initiative through the Legal Lives Program where prosecutors will present a law-related curriculum to hundreds of schools throughout Brooklyn each year.