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Hochul wants to triple funding for SNUG violence-prevention program

A side view of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, wearing a green dress, standing in front of media microphones, with a ceramic wall behind her.
Mike Desmond
Then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul explains the state's plan to help provide more jobs to young people in an effort to fight rising gun violence during a visit to Buffalo July 22, 2021.

A state program to reduce gun violence is expanding, and Western New York will play a role in that plan.

The SNUG program includes mentoring, social work and community outreach to try to help people avoid violence and find a new purpose.

“Many grow up in a neighborhood where they don’t see a role model that’s been successful,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “They only know the streets from their father, perhaps, or older brothers, and it becomes a cycle of violence because they don’t think they have other options.”

Jerome Brown said SNUG turned his life around. He joined the team himself, first working as a violence interrupter in the community and now as a supervisor to help others.

"They won't have to go to prison,” Brown said. “They won't have to go to a graveyard. They won't have to bring these traumatic experiences to their families."

Brown spoke at a training session for new SNUG workers at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany.

Hochul said gun violence is an epidemic, so she wants to triple the state’s investment in SNUG to almost $25 million. That includes sending new workers to cities that already have the program, including Buffalo, and expanding the program to Niagara Falls, Utica and Schenectady.

"There's too much grief going on in our society now,” said Hochul. “We came through a really tough time with the pandemic. Two solid years of people being constrained and not having the normal support system, and now a lot of people are taking anger and anxiety out in the streets."

Hochul listed the fight against gun violence as a priority in her State of the State Address earlier this year, mentioning the SNUG program and also launching an interstate consortium to track illegal guns.