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Hochul: New SNUG Street staff trained to deploy into communities to tackle gun violence


Wed, Mar 9th 2022 04:15 pm

Outreach program to focus on community engagement: mediate conflict, mentor youth, provide counseling, work with local partners

√ New hires made possible by an $8.2 million state investment in street outreach and violence interruption programs statewide

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the newest employees of the state's SNUG Street Outreach program will be deployed to sites in Albany, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mt. Vernon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy and Yonkers. Hochul met with the new staff and delivered virtual remarks at the team training on Wednesday.

"We're using every resource at our disposal to save lives and stop the gun violence that is plaguing too many communities across our state," Hochul said. "Through the SNUG Street Outreach program, violence interrupters will be deployed into communities to mediate conflict, mentor youth and work with local partners to make our streets safer. We will continue to take strong action and employ creative solutions to end gun violence and keep New Yorkers safe."

The program, part of Hochul's overall plan to tackle the gun violence crisis, focuses on community engagement, including mediating conflicts, mentoring youth, and providing counseling and support to address trauma resulting from long-term exposure to gun violence.

This cadre of 29 street outreach workers, hospital responders, social workers and case managers are the first to train at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Services' State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany inside a 45,000-square-foot warehouse that houses CityScape, a fully constructed city block featuring municipal buildings, a school, a bank, apartments and other real-world features.

While this state-of-the-art location typically serves as a training base for SWAT teams, it's been reimagined this week as a new kind of tool to help fight violence. Here, SNUG teams are able to practice role playing, practical exercises and responding to violence on city streets in a real-world environment, as opposed to a classroom, bringing a unique and innovative approach to helping solve this crucial issue of gun violence.

Hochul’s team said, “The SNUG Street Outreach Program, administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, treats gun violence as a public health issue by identifying the source, interrupting its transmission, and treating it by engaging individuals and communities to change community norms about violence. Street outreach workers and hospital responders are seen as credible messengers, as many of them have been involved with the criminal justice system and live in the communities in which they work. The state Office of Victim Services provides funding for social workers and case managers at each SNUG site.

“Comprehensive training, site visits and support from DCJS set SNUG apart from other community-based violence interruption programs. New staff must complete 40 hours of training and new supervisors, 32 hours of management training. In addition, all staff must complete 24 hours of professional development training annually. This training and support helps ensure that the program operates consistently across all SNUG 12 sites – the two others are located in the Bronx and Wyandanch – despite being operated by different community-based organizations.”

Including the employees trained this week, 138 staff will now work at SNUG programs supported by the state. Recruitment and hiring of additional SNUG staff at all 12 sites and New York City Violence interruption programs continues, made possible by a $8.2 million state investment announced by Hochul last fall.

Hochul's proposed budget triples resources for gun violence, expanding the state's SNUG network to Utica, Schenectady and Niagara Falls, and invests $24.9 million to sustain and grow community-based gun violence initiatives that reduce shootings and saves lives by:

√ Funding community violence specialists at the state's 22 trauma centers;

√ Expanding SNUG from 12 to 15 communities, with the addition of Niagara Falls, Schenectady and Utica;

√ Piloting an initiative to increase participation in programming by helping meet the basic needs of vulnerable young people;

√ Provide skills-based job-readiness and work-placement training for youth who participate in SNUG; and

√ Build upon DCJS's training of SNUG staff by launching a first-in-the-nation program to recruit and retain outreach workers to overcome a primary obstacle to expanding community-based violence prevention efforts.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, "The consequences of gun violence are devastating. We have seen a disturbing rise in gun violence across the nation since the beginning of the pandemic, and we must put every resource available toward ending this public health crisis. We thank Gov. Hochul for increasing funds to expand SNUG Street Outreach teams and other gun violence prevention efforts. These teams play a crucial role in combatting gun violence by using credible messengers to reach out those most at risk, and supporting better alternatives for our youth."

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Gun violence has devastated families and communities nationwide and, while New York has not been immune, we are forging the path to a safer future. Under the leadership of Gov. Hochul, New York has embraced a holistic, data-based approach that marries law enforcement strategies with community-based solutions. The SNUG program is one of the most critical components of this effort, and we are proud to host this training at our world-class State Preparedness Training Center."

Director of the Office of Victim Services Elizabeth Cronin said, "Gun violence doesn't just harm those who are targeted. It traumatizes victims' loved ones and entire communities. OVS is dedicated to helping those individuals by providing support they need to live safer, healthier and happier lives. We thank Gov. Hochul for her steadfast commitment to supporting street outreach programs and preventing gun violence across the state."

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