Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence across the State. The initiative includes leveraging $2 million to develop community specific anti-gun violence strategies, launching a targeted advertising campaign, supporting effective community based violence intervention programs, and creating a toll-free tip line to encourage citizens to report illegal firearm possession.
"For too long, urban communities across New York have been devastated by gun violence, destroying families and neighborhoods," Governor Cuomo said. "Although the crime rate in New York State has dropped 60 percent, making it the safest large state in the country, we must do all we can to stop the violence and make sure our residents are protected and our streets are safe. These initiatives will give communities the tools they need to effectively fight gun violence and reduce crime, making the state a safer and better place to live for all."
This initiative is a part of the Governor's larger urban agenda to aggressively support the implementation of community-based violence reduction strategies involving both the police and the community. The Governor's plan includes four innovative strategies to reduce gun violence across the State:
Creating Community Specific Anti-Violence Strategies: The Governor is awarding $1 million dollars to six communities -- Newburgh, Albany, Schenectady, Brownsville, the Bronx and Manhattan, that are most impacted by gun violence to develop strategies to reduce it. Two prominent academics who have focused on crime and gun violence, Professor Tracey Meares of Yale University and Professor David M. Kennedy of John Jay College, will work with the localities to implement this strategy. They have employed strategies in other jurisdictions that have reduced crime dramatically.
Launching Advertising Campaign: The Governor will launch a state-wide advertising campaign focused on reducing gun violence. The campaign will utilize several tools that will target and encourage changes in behavior that will reduce violent crime. The campaign is expected to launch in the spring of 2012.
Supporting Effective Community-Based Programs: The Governor is committed to continue funding community-based programs that have demonstrated effectiveness and a record of success. The Governor recently awarded $700,000 to support anti-violence intervention (also referred to as the SNUG program) in five communities including Yonkers, Albany, Niagara, Harlem and Brooklyn. Based on a public health model of violence intervention, the program funds "violence interrupters," often ex-offenders who identify potential disputes and try to de-escalate. The program managers are required to submit results by the end of the fiscal year.
Creating A Toll-Free Gun Tip Line: Individuals in communities with persistently high rates of gun violence will now have access to a dedicated hotline to report illegal guns. The Governor announced today the launching of a toll-free number 1-855-GUNS-NYS (486-7697) that will provide follow-up on caller information regarding the location of an illegal gun. Rewards will be determined based on the value of the lead.
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "For too long, the response to gun violence has been to incarcerate offenders far from their home communities, and with ever-stricter penalties. Though crime rates have gone down, more must be done to rid this blight from our neighborhoods and our state. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his bold new initiative to reduce gun violence and look forward to working with him to ensure a brighter future for all New Yorkers."
Senator Bill Perkins said, "The fight against gun violence must start now - right here in our communities. I thank Governor Cuomo for launching this initiative that will help take illegal guns off the streets and make our communities a safer place. We cannot wait any longer - too many lives have already been destroyed by guns. We must work together to make sure our streets and cities are no longer afflicted by this devastating issue of gun violence."
Assembly Member Karim Camara, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus, said, "This is the most significant initiative by any federal or state elected official to gun violence. We have seen too much gun violence in our neighborhoods and now is the time to say enough is enough. By working together with Governor Cuomo, we will put in place these important strategies -- tailored to the specific problems in each community - that will help reduce gun violence and take firearms off the streets. Our inner cities must be a safe and protecting environment for our children and families, and I thank the Governor for his leadership and hard work on this initiative."
Tracey Meares, professor at Yale University, said, "This new approach is based on promoting our communities' confidence in the legitimacy of the law and aims to reduce crime through changing offenders' behavior for the long term. We've seen significant declines in violent crime in other cities, and I look forward to working with these new partners to implement similar strategies in their communities."
David M. Kennedy, professor at John Jay College, said, "By focusing community outreach, help, and where necessary, enforcement on the small number of core offenders who drive the crime numbers, we can reduce violence while at the same time limit the number of people we lock away in prisons. National experience has shown that this approach makes neighborhoods dramatically safer and creates stronger communities."
Greg Jocko Jackson, community leader with the Brownsville Partnership, said, "By putting in place community-specific solutions to combat gun violence, Governor Cuomo is taking the lead in making our inner city neighborhoods safer for all. It is important that each affected area launch a strategy that is tailored to their specific needs and unique problems, and that is why this program launched by the Governor has the potential to continue New York's leadership in finding solutions to reduce gun violence."
Richard S. Hartunian, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York: "I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in taking guns off the streets of inner city communities in New York. For too long, gun violence has hurt our cities and taken the life of too many young people, and we must find new ways to reduce the proliferation of firearms. These initiatives put in place by the Governor hold promise to meaningfully reduce crime and gun violence, and I look forward to continuing to work together to make our state a safer place for all."
Janet DiFiore, President of the New York State District Attorneys Association, said, "New York State must take the lead at getting guns off our streets, and I praise these new initiatives launched by Governor Cuomo to reduce gun violence. We have seen the lives of too many young New Yorkers ruined by gun violence, and the Governor is right to lead this effort. We will continue to work together to make our urban centers a safe place for all New Yorkers."
Mechanicville Police Chief Joseph D. Waldron, president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, "These gun-reducing initiatives launched by Governor Cuomo will be an important tool for law enforcement officers as we work to fight gun violence. Certain communities in New York have been disproportionately affected by gun crimes and it is important for these areas to be given the resources they need to take guns off the streets. We thank the Governor for leading these initiatives and look forward to working together in our continued efforts to protect New Yorkers."