Hempstead, New York

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Hempstead, New York

BCJI Funding Year: FY2020

BCJI Awardee: Village of Hempstead Crime Reduction and Diversion Program

Focus Areas: The Hill, The Heights, Terrace Avenue, Jackson Street, and Midway - Population 55,000

Challenges: Gun Violence

Neighborhood Characteristics

The Village of Hempstead experiences high crime levels, low employment, high rates of vacant and distressed properties, and escalating poverty levels. Almost 20 percent of the population in the Village of Hempstead lives below the poverty line. Furthermore, 14.5 percent of families in the Village have an annual income of less than $15,000. The 2017 Opportunity Index states that 33.3 percent of residents are low-income, and many social problems plaguing the Village of Hempstead are generational and can be traced back decades.  

Among the many societal challenges is the Village of Hempstead’s high crime rates involving guns, drugs, and gangs. Active gangs in the Village include Bloods, Crips, MS-13, Salvadorans with Pride (SWP), and 18th Street. Violence and social distress converge in the Village of Hempstead in ways that greatly exacerbate societal problems. Hempstead’s reputation has stymied revitalization in the Village. A larger tax base is needed, but investment in the community is rare due to its reputation for violence. In the meantime, gangs will continue to recruit from what they see as a large pool of recruits, while drug and gun violence persists. 

Planning Phase

The Village of Hempstead Police Department (HPD), through prior policing action and planning, has developed four areas of criminal activity labeled as hot spots. These hot spots make up 13 various blocks, approximately one mile, of the Village and will act as the target areas for the Village’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) project.

The goal of HPD’s BCJI project is to tailor individual solutions to each of the Village’s hot spots by leveraging research and data into a comprehensive strategy. The HPD’s ultimate goal is to negate gun violence completely, but a more realistic goal is to decrease gun-related violence yearly. One primary goal in support of this is to make strategic arrests of top offenders perpetuating violent crimes in hot spot areas. Proposed project activities include:

  • Hiring of three new officers to perform proactive measures in hot spots such as foot patrols, business checks, and “knock and talks” with known gun offenders on active parole or probation,  
  • Traffic safety vehicle stops by the HPD Traffic Bureau in hot spots coupled with the use of license plate readers to gather data, impound vehicles when justified, and arrest offenders with outstanding warrants,
  • Continued research and data analysis to combat gun crime in Village hot spots,
  • Installation of additional cameras throughout the Village to assist in solving crimes,
  • Aggressive investigation by the HPD Juvenile Aid Bureau (JAB) concerning juveniles associated with gun-related crimes when necessary, and
  • Continued community engagement with community and civic partners. 

Other Key Partners

Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Homeland Security Investigations; neighborhood associations; Nassau County District Attorney’s Office; Nassau County Probation Department; Nassau County Sheriff’s Department; New York State Police; Department Of Corrections and Community Supervision; New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas; federal task forces; Counseling Services of Eastern District New York; Suffolk County Police Department

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.

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