After Leiby Kletzky was found brutally murdered last month, KingsCounty District Attorney Charles J. Hynes reacted with the sameshock, disgust and outrage as his fellow Brooklyn residents.
I will ensure that we bring justice to his memory, he said inmid-July.
The newly revamped Safe Stop program is the first step towardsfulfilling that promise to both remember Kletzky – who was allegedly kidnapped and killed by Levi Aron, 35– and continue to keep Brooklynites of all ages safe.
DA Hynes and Brooklyn business leaders presented Safe Stopsticker decals to several business owners outside Johnny’sPizzeria
We are always looking for ways to make Brooklyn safer.Sometimes people who need help don’t know where to turn, saidHynes. Now, if someone is lost, has a medical emergency, or is acrime victim, they can go into any of these Safe Stop locationswhere merchants… will be trained to know where to refer peopleand how to help them.
There are currently 77 Safe Stop locations in Brooklyn: 45 inSunset Park, 19 in Williamsburg and 13 in Park Slope. All merchantswere screened by being hand-picked by their local businessimprovement districts as responsible, beloved and long-timecontributors to their communities.
When I approached [merchants], no one said no, said ReneeGiordano, executive director of the Sunset Park BusinessImprovement District (BID). In all communities, this isimportant to them. Businesses have never turned anybody away andnow they know they’re not alone.
Johnny Miniaci, the third-generation owner at Johnny’s Pizzeria,said that signing up was a no brainer.
It’s to help people [because] it’s all family here, heexplained as he placed the blue, orange and white sticker on hisfront door. Everyone needs a safe place to go. Some people forgettheir keys in their house, their car and just need someone to callfor them if their cell phone runs out of batteries. People havecome in for the restroom and as a meeting spot.
Daniel Murphy was one of those people who would use Johnny’sPizzeria as a safe place while growing up. The Sunset Park nativeand current Public Safety Committee chair at Community Board 7said that he grew up on their pizza and is glad that the DAbrought the Safe [Haven] program back.
It’s awesome. It gives us ownership over our community and weknow that the DA’s got our back. We know we can reach out to him,explained Murphy, who is executive director of Brownsville’s PitkinAvenue BID, which is also joining the Safe Stop program. This isdealing with street crime in the most positive way possible – byempowering businesses.
The Safe Stop initiative may be taking on new urgency andstrength in the aftermath of Kletzky’s murder, said Hynes, but wasin the works for over a year, as a reboot of Brooklyn’s previousSafe Haven program. The difference now, he said, is that Safe Stopwas imagined and co-coordinated by community members and has a lotof participation.
That community strength includes outreach support from MariaRoca and Marion Palm of the Friends of Sunset Park and Jimmy Li ofthe Brooklyn Community and Youth Association, who have created theKeep Kids Safe campaign, complete with flyerswith safety tips in three languages: English, Spanish andChinese.
Outreach will be conducted through participating BIDs as well asthrough education efforts via the DA’s Legal Lives program, which brings assistant districtattorneys into classrooms to talk about the law and its role intheir everyday lives.
For more information about Safe Stop, including a list ofparticipating businesses, contact the Brooklyn DA’s office at718-250-2247. For an application, contact your local BID.