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Anti-violent crime initiative extended into October

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy at podium, surrounded by other law enforcement officials
Thomas O'Neil-White
U.S. Attorney James Kennedy (at podium) surrounded by other law enforcement officials Thursday.

Citing the positive results of the joint law enforcement operation known as VIPER (Federal Violence Prevention and Elimination Response), U.S. Attorney James Kennedy is extending it in the City of Buffalo through the month of October.

The initial 60-day operation, comprised of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, was a response to a surge in violent crime in the city. Over a two-month period which ended Sept. 7, 122 firearms were seized, shootings and shooting homicides decreased and the homicide rate was reduced by over 50%.

Kennedy said his strategy of enhanced targeted enforcement was equivalent to fishing with a spear instead of a net.

“Not just saturating the City of Buffalo with police officers and shaking down people and harassing people or doing anything like that,” he said. “That's not what we did. That's not what we will do. That's not what the constitution allows us to do. And, frankly, it's one of the things I think that you know, in terms of sort of this narrative, that existed for a period of time about the police and as being part of the problem.”

Kennedy said there is frustration from state and local law enforcement officials over lax bail laws in the state and the inability to keep a suspect behind bars pending a day in court.

“They make an arrest and before the end of their shift, they arrest somebody with a firearm or some other offense, and before the end of their shift that person's back out on the streets,” he said. “That is a recipe for disaster.”

At the federal level, Kennedy is using every tool he has in prioritizing the arrest and prosecution of violent criminals and drug dealers.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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