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Mayor Brown hails lowest gun violence rate in nine years, but says more must be done

WBFO file photo

The City of Buffalo in the first six months of this year, according to police statistics, recorded its fewest cases of gun violence within the first half of a year since 2011. There's also a significant downward trend in gun violence in a six-month span since 2016. Mayor Byron Brown welcomes the trend, but says he and police won't be complacent.

From Jan. 1 through June 30, the City of Buffalo recorded 79 cases of people killed or injured by gunfire. Thirteen of those cases were fatal. According tofurther analysis published by the Buffalo News, there were 25 homicides in the first six months of 2018, of which 19 resulted from gunfire.

In the first six months of 2016, by comparison, there were a total 148 shootings in the City of Buffalo.

The stats for the first six months of 2019 are the lowest in nine years.

"I wouldn't say there's any one thing," said Mayor Brown, when asked what may be influencing the downward trend. "We pay attention to it every single day."

But there are at least two initiatives the mayor credits as playing a part in curbing gun violence, including one introduced by the Buffalo Police Department several months ago.

"There is a new gun violence unit that focuses very aggressively, very proactively, on shooting events and trying to find out where they happen, why they happened, how we can prevent them from happening," Brown said. "That's been very helpful."

The mayor also points to what is known as "custom notifications," a program by which police and community representatives go directly to parents and family members of at-risk youth, to tell them of their loved ones' activities. The goal is to steer at-risk youth off a path to the gang life and toward positive alternative activities.

While he's pleased by the downward trend in gun violence, Brown says he and police leaders acknowledge more work needs to be done to further lower the numbers.

"Our mantra in the City of Buffalo is any one shooting, any one homicide is one too many," the mayor said. "While shootings are down and homicides are down, we are not resting. We are continuing to work because we want to make sure that no one is getting shot in our community."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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