J’Ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade returned to Brooklyn this past weekend for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and officials said the event went smoothly thanks to collaboration between residents and officials.

At a press conference at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon, Anthony Newerls of Brownsville In, Violence Out said the event was peaceful this year – largely because community groups and city agencies worked together.

"This is something that you’re going to see moving forward,” he said. “No more silos. No more you doing this and we’re doing that. It's time for the city to come together so the city can be safe."

Community members in Little Caribbean in Flatbush and neighboring Crown Heights had felt some trepidation before the first in-person West Indian Day parade in three years. As those neighborhoods have gentrified and Crown Heights’ white population has reportedly doubled, noise complaints have increased, and violent incidents during Labor Day weekend have overshadowed the otherwise joyous celebration.

The event gained a reputation for violence after several people were shot and killed in recent years, including one of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s aides in 2015. Some have even called for the early morning tradition to be canceled, citing safety concerns.

But critics have also said the event was overpoliced and its reputation for violence was exaggerated. They cite Jumaane Williams' arrest at the 2011 parade and leaks of alleged NYPD cops making bets on violence that marred the 2016 parade.

Officials at the press conference on Tuesday said they spent extra time planning this year and worked more closely with community members and violence interrupters to prevent shootings. Mayor Eric Adams, who has criticized the police department for squandering city resources by oversaturating major events, said fewer officers were deployed more efficiently this year. Police said they also used technology to monitor noise levels at house parties and worked with partygoers to ensure they could keep celebrating without being too loud. They said they tried to avoid enforcement whenever possible.

“A big goal of ours going into this weekend certainly was to recognize the deep meaning of what this weekend represents for the Caribbean community, but also to allow celebration,” said Assistant Chief Michael Kemper, who supervises south Brooklyn. “And very importantly, how can we as a department achieve this by avoiding unnecessary community-police conflict?”

Kemper said he used to work at the event early in his career without knowing what it was about. This year, he said every officer assigned to J’Ouvert learned about its history and met with local elected officials and clergy to better understand the environment they were patrolling.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell noted that the lack of violence at this year’s celebration followed a citywide trend for the holiday weekend. She called 2022 the “third-best Labor Day weekend this city has seen related to violence in the modern Compstat era.”

Neither Sewell nor the NYPD explained what she specifically meant by “third-best” or shared which years ranked as first- and second-best. But a department spokesperson said just one person was killed and 15 shot over the long weekend this year, compared to nine homicides and 29 shooting victims in 2021. Shootings are murders are both down about 10% so far this year, according to NYPD data.