NEW YORK—Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said that he wants to introduce a new gun crime registry in his borough—one that will have similar requirements as sex offender registries across the United States.
“Those who engage in gun violence cannot escape the spotlight,” Diaz said in his annual State of the Borough Address Tuesday.
This “new gun crime registry,” he said, “will have reporting requirements similar to those as sex offenders.”
This registry will be made online and will include offending individuals’ living and employment arrangements.
“This issue affects me greatly, because I love the Bronx so much,” Diaz said, while tacitly noting the recent national dialogue over gun violence in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre in December.
But Diaz noted marked improvements in the Bronx—a far cry from the crime- and urban decay-ridden borough of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
The Bronx, with its population of almost 1.4 million, has turned over a new leaf, Diaz said. He frequently referred to it as the “New Bronx” that encourages economic development, investment, good food, and education.
“What we have accomplished this year … will have a profound and lasting impact on our borough,” said Diaz.
For years, the Bronx has been stereotyped as a crime hub, rife with gang activity, but in recent years crime statistics have dramatically decreased.
Last month, the Bronx said it recorded one of its lowest-ever murder rates in 2012, with 8 people killed per 100,000 people, besting cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. It was the lowest murder rate recorded in the Bronx since 1963, Diaz said.
“Bronx has come a long way in the past few decades … crime is down … investment is high,” Diaz said.
Diaz added, “Yet we are still fighting stereotypes of a previous generation,” calling on New Yorkers to “bury the idea that the Bronx is unsafe.”
He said, “The Bronx has improved and violent crime has dropped dramatically,” calling it “safe—safer than many major cities.”
To help with economic development and lowering crime, the borough president noted recent investments of $94 million in direct capital funding for creating jobs, fixing up and rebuilding schools, investing in infrastructure, and refurbishing parks in the Bronx.
Parts of the Bronx, namely the South Bronx, have been described as “food deserts,” with the borough considered one of the poorest and hungriest districts in the United States.
Diaz said that his office is working to change his borough’s food situation to make it the “breadbasket of the Tri-State area,” noting that new projects, including Fresh Direct, bring better food to residents.
Diaz also touched on the state of education in his borough.
“Our borough needs a new school to prepare our students for [better] careers,” he said, noting that Brooklyn’s new school, P-TECH, is a great benefit to students in the borough. P-TECH is a six-year high school that offers students a high-school diploma, as well as an associate’s degree in technical education. It is a public school that partners with IBM. The school was referenced in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week.
“We need a school like this in the Bronx. And we cannot afford to wait,” Diaz said.