Bronx Community Solutions

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The next crisis for cities?

I'm wondering what effect the foreclosure crisis will have on public safety in New York and other cities...

Thursday, October 23, 2008


It's the code for the criminal charge of fare evasion, and it's a charge we see a lot of at Bronx Community Solutions. We frequently speak to clients who were arrested for entering the subway system without paying, and who often also had an open warrant for some other minor charge.

Yesterday two undercover officers where shot with their own service weapons during a scuffle in a Long Island City subway station while they were arresting an individual for fare evasion. A similar incident occured a few months ago here in the Bronx, near the 4 Train station at Jerome and 167th Street.

According to the New York Times, Officers Seeking Fare Evaders Often Find Worse Crimes. The article from today's New York Times provides a detailed statistical breakdown and description of NYPD operations to address fare beating and other misconduct in the subway system. According to an NYPD spokesperson, “We have had tremendous success in identifying arrested individuals wanted for other crimes by suppressing fare evasion.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bronx Times: "The Positive Side of Crime"

From the Bronx Times, Serving Throggs Neck and neighboring communities (to view the article directly, go here):

by Amanda Marinaccio
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The courts are finding a new way to give back to the community, turning punishment into production.

On Tuesday, September 30, a group of young adults, charged with non-violent offenses, were assigned to clean up graffiti at several locations along E. Tremont Avenue, as part of the Bronx Community Solutions program.

This is an organization geared towards finding alternative solutions to non-violent offenses, rather than jail sentencing. The goal is to turn punishments into beneficial learning experiences and provide helpful services to the Bronx community.

“They go to all the precincts in the borough and set up a schedule every month,” said officer Pasquale Pappalardi of the 45th Precinct, “or if something comes up and I can’t get assistance from another office I will request they come in to help.”

The locations painted were areas chosen by Pappalardi, whose specializes in crime prevention. There are buildings and areas picked out by the police themselves or that may have had complaints submitted against them through community members.

The photos taken to report the graffiti are the most important key to resolving the graffiti problem according to Pappalardi, who is able to keep track of ‘tags’ through the photographs to further investigate and prevent these crimes.

“The purpose of graffiti is territorial, who owns the turf first. The whole idea is to represent your crew, in other words what team you are on,” explains Pappalardi.

The group had mixed feelings regarding the service they were providing for the community; some feeling that graffiti cleanup should extend throughout the entire Bronx.

“I would rather do this than be locked up in jail,” said Eddie Hogan, 18, who was serving one day of community service for his offense. “I don’t know why we are doing this area though, this is a nice area, and there are a lot of other places that need to be taken care of.”

Other participants felt that this was a positive alternative and appreciated the outreach programs gears to assist them further in attaining a job or continuing to help their communities.

“If you don’t ask and apply yourself, they are not going to help you,” explains Litza Velazquez, who felt her community service had a positive impact. “A lot of people just complain, they don’t realize people just don’t hand things to you. This group will help you with whatever you need, you just have to apply yourself.”

According to a representative from Councilman James Vacca’s office, there are many options out there to help with community cleanup, for anyone wishing to volunteer, including the ‘adopt a mailbox’ program from the U.S. Post Office. The ultimate goal of all these programs is to have the community unite to ensure a cleaner environment for all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Great Press for Problem-Solving

Problem-solving justice got some great press this week. Here's an A1 article in the New York Times on the continued growth of Drug Courts.

And yesterday, the Center For Court Innovation's own Sharon Ife Charles and the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center were profiled in the Daily News in their "Big Town Big Dreams: Stories about immigrant New Yorkers who make this town the great place it is" series. Here's the article: "We are not going to sing Kumbaya"

Monday, October 13, 2008


I took this picture of the old Penn Central Railroad property in the Bronx on Thursday. Penn Central went bankrupt in 1970. It was actually the first company to receive a big federal bailout.

Some of the railyards stretching from 149th the 161st are still active. But in the area where I took this picture a huge housing development (Concourse Village) and a shopping center have been built on concrete platforms over the old yard. Another housing complex that's been built over the railyards is this one.

We met with the owner and a site foreman who are planning to remove the dumping and graffiti that's been done over the years and renovate the space to provide parking and warehouse space. It was a fascinating to explore this cavernous, eerie urban jungle. It would have made a perfect scene for a Batman movie, a surreal urban dystopia.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Mural Arts Program

The Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. The program, which began as an anti-graffiti project in 1984, has produced more than 2,800 murals throughout the city, many covering whole walls of row houses in low-income neighborhoods, and it has won praise for building civic pride and helping to heal racial divisions. Read full coverage in the New York Times the here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Word on the street

A New York Times reporter interviewed people in the South Bronx, in one of America's poorest congressional districts, about their opinions on the proposed bailout of the financial industry. You can watch the video here. Jose Serrano, who represents the South Bronx in the House of Representatives was the only New York City congressman to vote against the bill.