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Probation Office Brings New Opportunities to Bed-Stuy Residents

By Paul DeBenedetto | December 13, 2013 11:01am
 DOP Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, left, helps cut the ribbon on the new Neighborhood Opportunity Network in Bed-Stuy.
DOP Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, left, helps cut the ribbon on the new Neighborhood Opportunity Network in Bed-Stuy.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A community-based probation office is looking to bring new opportunities to Bed-Stuy.

The Department of Probation's new Neighborhood Opportunity Network facility, or NeON, is part of a program designed to help people on probation connect with local services in their community, according to DOP Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.

“The NeON initiative is founded on two big ideas,” read a statement from Schiraldi.

“First, the Department of Probation can and should have a meaningful presence in the communities where significant numbers of our clients live. Second, people on probation should be offered viable community alternatives to long-term government dependency."

Each NeON is set up to work with local organizations, businesses and residents to help provide people on probation with new educational, social service and mentoring opportunities, the DOP said.

NeON facilities are co-located in the same building as local community organizations. In Bed-Stuy, the seventh such facility in the city, the program will be housed in the Paul J. Cooper Center for Human Services, a nonprofit mental health clinic at 510 Gates Ave.

Others facilities are located in Brownsville, East New York, South Jamaica, Harlem, the South Bronx and Staten Island.

The program recently won praise from urban policy groups United Neighborhood Houses and Center for an Urban Future, the latter of which called the program one of 10 innovations for incoming mayor Bill de Blasio to build on.

With the opening of the Bed-Stuy NeON, the DOP estimates that half of all medium- and high-risk adults on probation will now report to a NeON site. By focusing on neighborhoods with large populations of people on probation, the hope is that even more people will be able to reach the facilities.

"By embedding our most valuable resource — probation officers and their supervisors — in the same communities where large numbers of our clients live, we are better positioned to help our clients get their lives on track, which ultimately leads to greater public safety,” Schiraldi said.