Modified: July 20, 2021 11:43am
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin, members of the Legislature’s Majority Caucus, members of the Erie County District Attorney’s office, and several Erie County Commissioners as he issued his 22nd Executive Order, (“Order”) declaring gun violence as a public health crisis in Erie County. Erie County Crime Analysis Center data shows that homicides have increased in Erie County for the past four years, from 46 in 2017, to 58 in 2018, 59 in 2019 and 69 in 2020, with the vast majority of these having been through the use of a firearm; additionally, as of July 14, 2021, 44 of the 49 homicides committed in Erie County used a firearm.
Additionally, preliminary data released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for 2020 reveals that Erie County led all other New York counties in violent crimes committed with a firearm per capita (130.7 per 100,000 of population), was more than double the state average (57.4 per 100,000 of population), and far surpassed the rate of violent crime committed in New York City with a firearm (77.6 per 100,000 of population).
“We all have a role to play and a responsibility to keep our communities as safe as possible and do whatever we can to end the scourge of gun violence that is plaguing Erie County. Too many lives have been tragically ended or forever traumatically changed when a firearm has been used, whether in a homicide or suicide, and as a community we need to step up to protect our families, children and loved ones,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This Executive Order is both a recognition of the crisis we are facing and a call for community action to address it. The cost of inaction is too high. I thank Legislature Chair Baskin and the Majority caucus for their support along with Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. Let’s get to work on creating a safer, healthier community.”
The Executive Order directs the Commissioners of Central Police Services, Probation, Health, Mental Health, and Social Services to form a task force to work in concert with local law enforcement, including the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Buffalo Police Department, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, members of the Erie County Legislature, local anti-violence organizations and leaders, and the Live Well Erie Task Force to prepare programs and initiatives that (a) decrease gun violence among youth; (b) increase funding to the programs specific to reducing gun-violence; (c) work with local law enforcement agencies to create strategies to reduce the amount of illegal firearms in Erie County; (d) work with marginalized populations to provide education on gun violence, issues and solutions; (e) advocate for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color; and (f) support local, State, and Federal programs that advance anti-gun violence initiatives.
The Order also directs the Commissioner of Probation to increase the number of monthly home visits performed by Department of Probation officers with probationers who are at high-risk of involvement with guns and violence under the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (“GIVE”) Initiative, and directs the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services to (1) expedite the investment of the additional $530,727 received by Erie County from New York State for additional summer youth employment opportunities, under the new age and geographic residence restrictions provided by New York State, thereby making more at-risk youth and young adults eligible for the program, and to work with local anti-violence organizations and leaders to identify at-risk youth and young adults for the initiative; and (2) following placement of at-risk young adults into temporary employment opportunities as described above, work to transition said young adults into permanent employment opportunities using the Department of Social Services’ Placing Individuals in Vital Opportunity Training (“PIVOT”) program.
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