Advocates push for safety after bodega killings

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Advocates are pushing for more safety for bodega workers in light of two deadly attacks on deli employees in less than a week.

Safety upgrades were installed at Anthony's Mini Mart last year and have already proven their worth, according to owner Tony Rodriguez.

"I press the button, it locked the door. He tried to open the door, he can't get in. It saved my life this day," said Rodriguez. The "safe haven" bodega is equipped with 16 security cameras, LED and strobe lights, shatterproof glass, magnetic locks controlled by a switch behind the counter, and a panic button that silently calls police when pressed.

The six-point program costs about $2,500, according to those who developed it. It is based on recommendations from the NYPD to keep customers safe in the wake of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman Feliz's death in 2018. A year after Junior's death, four stores were considered safe havens.

However, after the recent killings of two deli employees, leaders with the United Bodegas of America are calling on more shop owners to get these features installed.

Today, advocates say the program has expanded around the city. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez recently called for deli employees to be armed, though it is a suggestion that was met with mixed reviews.

A bill being considered by the City Council would reimburse bodega owners for the cost and installation of panic buttons. That bill was discussed by councilmembers during a hearing last November.

Representatives for Councilman Mark Gjonaj, who proposed that legislation, tell News 12 they're currently working with the mayor's office and that they hope to see action taken and to make it a law in the coming months.

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