CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn - New York City officials on Monday announced enhanced parade security measures for the 2017 J'Ouvert Celebration, designed to curb the violence that has plagued the annual event in recent years.
Two people were killed last year, despite an increased police presence and more lighting, and in 2015, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Carey Gabay was shot and killed. One of the victims was 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau, a student at St. John's University. A 17-year was also shot and killed.
Gabay, a 43-year-old lawyer who had worked for Cuomo and was deputy counsel of the state's economic development agency, was shot in the head as two street gangs exchanged gunfire.
The festival will take place from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday, September 4, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after previously starting at 2 a.m.
"J'Ouvert is one of the most vibrant and passionate celebrations of culture in our great city, and it is incumbent upon all of us to make this year's festivities peaceful and enjoyable for everyone," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The decision to step off this year's parade two hours later was a joint, strategic judgment made by the parade's organizers and permit holders and the NYPD, in an effort to reduce the potential for violence. This year, the formation area and parade route will close to the general public the night before the parade.
Also, hundreds of additional uniformed officers -- an increase of more than 10 percent over last year -- will provide security at 12 secure entry points and along the two-mile parade route. Both parade participants and spectators will be screened for weapons and alcoholic beverages. In addition, backpacks and other large bags will be prohibited.
Each entry point will be outfitted with light towers to increase safety and facilitate the ease of entry. Additional light towers, representing a total increase of about 30 percent over last year, will be placed along the parade route. The NYPD will also deploy additional high-resolution security cameras this year.
"J'Ouvert is a celebration of Caribbean culture, and the NYPD is committed to making it safe for everyone," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "That's why, in addition to providing these enhanced security measures and additional public safety resources, we've been strengthening our partnerships with the community, elected officials, other city agencies and other stakeholders."
J'Ouvert City International is partnering with the NYPD, clergy, community members and elected officials as part of a unified approach to enhance public safety at this year's celebration. The parade formation area will be located on Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard. Upon step off, the parade will proceed south on Flatbush Avenue, east on Empire Boulevard and south on Nostrand Avenue to Midwood Street.
In addition to robust policing efforts, the city is embarking on an unprecedented initiative to join community groups and law enforcement to co-produce public safety in advance of the J'Ouvert festivities. This includes a series of grants to community-based organizations to work on violence prevention, as well as work with the city's Crisis Management System, a citywide initiative to reduce gun violence in the 17 precincts that account for 51 percent of shootings citywide.
There have been complaints for years about safety at J'ouvert, a carnival celebrating Caribbean culture held on the streets of Brooklyn. Traditionally held largely in the dark, last year's celebration was illuminated by 200 light towers.