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$2 million crime-fighting grant awarded to Buffalo

WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

Some of the city of Buffalo's most violent residents are going to have notification sessions in their futures, courtesy of nearly $2 million in state cash coming here for crime-fighting. It is part of a renewal of a program called the Gun Involved Violence Elimination grant from the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. 

An array of agencies have been pushing hard against gun violence and this helps pay for it, including a special team of prosecutors in the office of Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty, along with deputy sheriffs, probation officers, forensic staffers and Buffalo Police overtime in high crime areas. Flaherty said everybody works together.

"We regularly examine our cases and determine which of our offices is in a better position to prosecute the offenders," said Flaherty. "But, as you can see from the people standing with me, this initiative depends more that just policing and prosecuting but earning the trust of the community so that its members who have the most at stake have a say in how they are policed."

The cash will go for a series of strategies including analysis to identify crime hot spots, identifying chronic offenders and targeting them, street outreach efforts and and those notification sessions by members of law enforcement visiting homes of probationers considered most likely to engage in gun violence. It is a mix of putting them on notice and offering to work with them to stay violence-free and out of jail.

Mayor Byron Brown said the city is pushing hard against crime and criminals.

"We have been tough on crime with all of these law enforcement partners, but as you also heard, we have very been smart on crime, doing things to crack down on the criminal actors while at the same time reaching out to young people, reaching out to at-risk youth, reaching out to victims of violence," he said.

The mayor said one area where the city is working hard is jobs for youth and working on jobs for people with criminal records to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Murray Holman is a senior peacemaker with the Stop the Violence Coalition. Holman said groups like his are out there working against crime.
"To make sure that young men get the opportunity to put down their guns, turn them over to law enforcement, change their mind set, get a job," said Holman. "We have put pieces and puzzles together all day long to tell kids and young ladies and young men that enough is enough."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.