With an uptick in the call for community action against gun violence, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has fostered the launches of programs aimed at stopping such incidents in their tracks.
Cuomo recently announced seven programs will share more than $2 million in grants designed to reduce gun violence in communities across New York. The initiative promotes street-level outreach and intervention.
Mike Greene is executive deputy commissioner of the state division of criminal justice services. "One of the things the governor is focused on is making sure we have a comprehensive approach as we look at combating the issue of gun violence and shootings, and I think that's where the value of these neighborhood violence reduction programs, known as SNUG come in. These programs use violence interrupters and outreach workers to help intervene with disputers, to keep them from becoming shootings, or in instances where you have a shooting, to try to break that retaliatory cycle so you don't have more violence."
Continued funding to the tune of $280,000 apiece has been directed to Trinity Institute's program in Albany County and the Yonkers YMCA in Westchester County. Harris Oberlander, Chief Executive Office of Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, says Trinity has gone halfway through the funding cycle. "The lions share of that goes to the salaries of the individuals who work in the program and their benefits. There's some small amounts of funds left over for things like office rental, travel expenses, making sure we have the proper gear, telephones, apparel, and the like in accord with the Chicago model so that things are visible to the community. Paying for things like public relations materials, handouts, so that when the workers are doing canvassing door-to-door they have what to distribute to explain the program."
Oberlander adds that the money funds monthly events required by the model to promote "peaceful engagement" within the community, as well as paying for week-long training trips to distant cities. 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. "We're not an anti-gun program. We're an anti-violence program based on a public health model that suggest that if you isolate those who are at the epicenter of violence that by helping them choose a new lifestyle, you can help prevent the spread of violence."
Oberlander says the group views violence as a disease. And there's a new cash infusion from the capitol: this week, Governor Cuomo announced that 17 counties will compete for more than $13 million to fund efforts to reduce firearm-related crimes, shootings, and homicides through the state’s new Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative. The initiative is designed to build upon the crime-fighting successes those jurisdictions experienced while participating in Operation IMPACT.