The Community Partnerships Division takes a multi-faceted approach to provide opportunities for individuals to make a positive contribution to Queens County so that crime is not their only option. This Division reaches out to civic and non-profit organizations, creates programs, sponsors events, and engages with every neighborhood throughout the Borough of Queens, reducing crime and increasing justice for all.
Civic Awareness Unit
The Civic Awareness Unit coordinates the Advisory Councils to the Queens District Attorney.
Additionally, the Civic Awareness Unit manages and operates all District Attorney sponsored events including gun buy-backs, warrant forgiveness programs, town halls, rallies and cultural celebration events. The Office of Immigrant Affairs is also part of the Civic Awareness Unit.
For more information, email CivicAwareness@queensda.org or call 718.286.6695.
Community Advisory Councils
The Civic Awareness Unit is managing the formation of Community Advisory Councils. These
advisory groups are organized to enhance communications between the Office and the various
communities that comprise the most diverse county in the United States. District Attorney Katz has created these councils to change the dynamic of community relations. The first time people interact with the Office of the District Attorney should not be during a time of crisis or tragedy. The District Attorney is determined to “open the doors” of the Office, invite the community in, hear their concerns, and ensure that communities are familiar with the Office.
Nearly 400 Queens residents from all walks of life have joined our Community Advisory Councils. Our Office will continue to form new advisory councils as the opportunities arise, including a Middle Eastern/North African Advisory Council in 2021. So far, each advisory council consists of approximately 45 members who will share information and observations, particularly about crimes that are underreported to the police because of language barriers or immigration concerns.
To date, the following nine individual advisory councils have held virtual organizational meetings to kick off the important work they are set to accomplish.
1. African-American Advisory Council
2. Clergy Advisory Council
3. Pacific Asian Advisory Council
4. Jewish Advisory Council
5. Building Trades Labor Council
6. Service Employees Labor Council
7. Latino Advisory Council
8. LGBTQ+ Advisory Council
9. South Asian/Indo Caribbean Advisory Council
Gun Buy Back Program
As the city and our borough continues to address the ongoing effects of gun violence, DA Katz has been proactive in fighting back. The District Attorney reminds us all that a gun can never be un-fired and a life taken can never be restored. Our Office is working tirelessly to get guns off the street, and we have organized three gun buy-back initiatives. To date, these gun buy-backs have taken more than 200 operable firearms off the street.
The Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York Police Department (NYPD) co-hosted these gun buy back events across the borough with local community groups and churches, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Long Island City, the Center of Hope International (COHI), the Community Church of Astoria, the Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica, and the Macedonia Baptist Church in Far Rockaway. The funding for these events is provided by DA Katz and the NYPD.
These events are an effective tool to diminish access to operable guns and reduce gun violence. Many individuals turned in firearms, with no questions asked, and received a $200 bank card for each surrendered handgun. Every gun collected represents a potential tragedy averted.
Community Engagement Unit
The Community Engagement Unit is “boots on the ground” for the Office and serves as a conduit for important information to keep the Queens District Attorney’s Office acutely aware of issues as they arise in the Queens community.
For more information, email CommunityEngagement@queensda.org or call 718.286.6764.
Community Response Team Unit
Community Response Team Unit consists of ADAs and staff assigned to specific geographic areas corresponding to community districts and precincts.
Office of Immigrant Affairs
For those who have been a victim of a crime, a scam, or illegal exploitation, there is a pathway to seek justice - without regard to one’s immigration status.
The Office of Immigration Affairs (OIA) works diligently with immigrants and international visitors to ensure they understand the legal system and their rights. Through education, outreach, and advocacy OIA defends the diversity and safety of the Queens’ immigrant community by protecting every person, regardless of their status.
If you are an immigrant and have been a victim of a crime, you may qualify for a visa protecting you from retaliation and giving you a right to legally live and work while you seek a green card.
More than 30 languages are spoken by the QDA/OIA staff - including English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese.
For more information, email OIA@queensda.org or call 718.286.6690. If you do not speak English, please say the language that you are most comfortable using and leave a message (in that language) with your name and phone number. Someone from OIA will respond to support you in the language you understand.
Youth Empowerment Unit
The Youth Empowerment Unit reaches hundreds of youth on an ongoing basis, creating an opportunity to teach young people to think critically and communicate respectfully. They also provide opportunities for students to increase their knowledge and awareness of the law and legal issues. The Youth Empowerment team has several programs.
For more information, email YouthEmpowerment@queensda.org or call 718.286.6400.
Legal Explorers Program
The Legal Explorers Program trains a new generation of prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, police officers and other criminal justice professionals. The program is designed to educate high school students about the legal system and various careers within law and law enforcement.
Mock Trial Competition
The unit works with the New York State Bar Association to administer the high school Mock Trial Competition each year. The Bar Association creates case materials which are distributed to participating schools. The unit works with court staff to provide courtrooms for the competition and also recruits attorneys to preside as judges over the proceedings.
This past summer, our Office partnered with the NYC Department of Probation to deliver the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (“NeON”) Program to selected Queens’ youth. The program was designed to teach young people workplace soft skills and help them prepare for a path forward with career readiness.
Pathways to Knowledge Program
The Pathways to Knowledge Program has expanded the Office’s Star Track Program, which originally focused on the Far Rockaway community, to other targeted schools throughout Queens. This program is designed to build bonds between law enforcement and young people, teach social responsibility, provide alternatives to drugs and crime, and encourage better decision-making.
Saturday Night Lights
Saturday Night Lights offers recreational programming for young people on Saturday evenings from 5pm to 7pm for ages 11-14, and from 7pm to 9pm for ages 15-18.
In July 2021, Queens DA Melinda Katz joined NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong to announce the expansion of 17 new Saturday Night Lights (SNL) program sites in Queens County, an important step in increasing access to this public initiative that is focused on youth development and violence prevention.
For more information, click here.
Student Advisory Council
The Student Advisory Council is a program designed to educate both students and our staff about the views of young people on legal issues that affect their lives. The unit brings students of varied backgrounds from schools all over Queens to discuss issues that affect the law and to help identify their own personal biases and debate matters in civil discourse.
Summer Youth Employment Program and Other Internships
High school and college interns under the Summer Youth Employment Program and our Far Rockaway Initiative learn through training sessions, cultural enrichment trips as well as career readiness and financial responsibility training.
Youth Events in the Community
The unit has attended numerous events within the community both virtually and in person to connect with Queens’ youth. Our staff educates them on the role of the District Attorney’s Office, and how our work impacts their community. Additionally, our staff stresses how important it is for them to make the right choices in life, and how the wrong choices can have a lasting impact on their lives. At these events, our staff, also networks with people who can expand our access to young people, such as school administrators, teachers, coaches, and religious leaders.