Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that seven programs will share more than $2 million in grants designed to reduce gun violence in communities across New York State. The initiative promotes street-level outreach and intervention to help steer young adults away from solving problems with guns and violence to positive approaches that keep communities safe.
This funding will support programs that directly engage high-risk youth to help them make better choices for their future, Governor Cuomo said. As we continue efforts to build safer communities across the state, these are critical investments in New Yorks most vulnerable areas that will teach our youth an important lesson: picking up a gun should never be the answer."
Building on the SNUG initiative formed in New York in 2009, the programs combine street outreach and violence intervention projects in localities that have been shown to have high volumes and rates of homicides and shootings. They use street outreach workers, sometimes called violence interrupters, who are trained to reduce violence or prevent further violence from occurring.
Grants will be administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Each of the programs chosen must implement a coordinated, community-based strategy that can include neighborhood events and public education activities. Those events and activities are often led by trusted community advisers who have backgrounds that are the same or similar to the youth they are trying to reach; they may be former gang members, people with prior convictions for firearms crimes or people who have been formerly incarcerated and have shown positive changes in their lives by turning away from crime.
No one knows better what the future looks like for a high-risk youth than someone who has already been down that path, DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said. By recognizing the signs that a situation might be escalating toward a violent conclusion, outreach workers can make contact with those on both sides of the issue and try to find a resolution, and also help open the eyes of those young people to more positive opportunities.
Successful programs also have strong relationships and partnerships with law enforcement and other agencies. A researcher/evaluator chosen by DCJS also will work with these programs to develop pre-implementation plans, including a detailed analysis of the current conditions in the community that each program will serve. That individual also will evaluate each program after they have been operational for a year to determine if they have been successfully implemented and met their crime-reduction goals.
Two programs are receiving continued funding:
- Trinity Program Albany (Albany County): $280,000
- YMCA Yonkers (Westchester County): $280,000
Five other programs will be funded for the first time as a result of their response to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by DCJS this fall:
- Family Services of Westchester Mount Vernon (Westchester County): $275,600
- Back to Basics Buffalo (Erie County): $366,400
- Model Neighborhood Facility Syracuse (Onondaga County): $396,400
- Jacobi Medical Center Auxiliary Bronx (Bronx County): $300,000
- Action for a Better Community Rochester (Monroe County): $281,600
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training, collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the states DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the states Sex Offender Registry.