Editorial: On Leiby’s Legacy

Residents from across Brooklyn, New York City and the UnitedStates, as well as the international community, have joined thetight-knit neighborhood of Boro Park in mourning eight-year-oldLeiby Kletzky, who – lost on the streets of his own community –fell victim to horrific violence.

What began as solidarity with a frantic and then grieving communityshould continue as people of all faiths and ethnicities jointogether to try to ensure that atrocities such as the one thatclaimed young Kletzky’s life are prevented in the future.

Part of the effort involves education. Children must be taught at ayoung age not to trust people that they do not know, even if theylook safe. They should also be taught whom to turn to if they needhelp -seeking out officials in uniform, for instance, or going intostores displaying the Safe Haven emblem if they feel threatened orare simply lost, as Kletzky was.

Legislation can help bridge the gap between ideal circumstances andreality. State Senator Marty Golden is renewing the push forpassage of a bill that would make the murder of a child 12 yearsold or younger a first degree offense. By New York law, suspectedkillers of individuals other than police officers, correctionsofficers, judges and peace officers generally can only be chargedwith murder in the second degree unless the act falls withincertain narrow parameters. The hope, according to Golden, is thatby increasing the charge, individuals contemplating such a heinouscrime might be deterred.

In addition, three other Brooklyn legislators – AssemblymembersPeter Abbate and Dov Hikind, and State Senator Diane Savino -arepoised to introduce legislation, aptly named The Leiby Initiativethat would give businesses that install and maintain videosurveillance equipment around their property an annual tax credit,stressing that video footage from such equipment helped lawenforcement officials to track the young boy and apprehend quicklythe man alleged to have brutalized him.

The effort, which began in Brooklyn but which knows no geographicboundaries, has at its heart a very simple goal – to make sure thatwhat happened to little Leiby Kletzky never happens again.

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