Storeowners post 'Safe Stop' signs on windows to help lost kids
BY Lillian Rizzo • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Before Leiby Kletzky was abducted and brutally murdered, he wandered the streets of Borough Park alone, lost and confused, on his first walk home from day camp.
The panicked 8-year-old had nowhere to turn for help - but now local storeowners want to take steps to keep Leiby's tragic ordeal from ever happening again.
Merchants across Brooklyn announced yesterday they will be posting Stop-sign-shaped stickers in their front windows to let children - or anyone else in trouble - know their shops are designated safe havens.
The stickers, part of the "Safe Stop" program introduced by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, were affixed to windows in stores in Sunset Park, Park Slope and Borough Park yesterday.
"Brooklyn is the first step," said John Miniaci, owner of Johnny's Pizzeria in Sunset Park. "One day, this will be our nation's step."
Hynes' office has been working on this initiative for the past year, pushing it forward in the wake of Leiby's murder.
As he unveiled the Safe Stop stickers at a press conference in front of Johnny's yesterday, the DA called on shopkeepers in other Brooklyn neighborhoods to get on board.
"I would hope that having these 'Safe Stop' programs all over Brooklyn will save children," Hynes said.
So far, 76 stores in Brooklyn have signed on and put Safe Stop stickers in their front windows. Hynes plans to get families and kids familiar with the program through brochures that will be handed out at schools across the borough.
Last month, Councilman David Greenfield proposed "Leiby's Law," a similar program that would have designated homes and stores as safe havens, after passing background checks.
Greenfield had planned to present the legislation at the end of August, in hopes of it going into effect in six months.
A tearful Blanca Toledo, the aunt of Patrick Alford, a Brooklyn child who went missing a year ago when he was 7, stood near Hynes during the press conference, wearing a T-shirt bearing Patrick's photo.
"I absolutely think this would have helped him," said Toledo of Patrick, with her two grandsons beside her.
I don't think it is accurate to say that Leibby "wandered the streets of Borough Park alone, lost and confused."
As far as any of us know, based on the security camera videos we've seen, Leiby didn't show any possible signs of being lost or of panic until the very end of his walk, when he reached Dahilll – and there are some experts who dispute even this.
The Safe Stop program would have done nothing for Leiby, unless he had chosen to turn around and retrace his route.
That doesn't make the D.A.'s program bad. It isn't. In fact, it will probably help a lot of kids.
But to say that it would have helped Leiby as he "wandered the streets of Borough Park alone, lost and confused" is patently false.