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Police departments in Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Troy & Utica, DA offices to share $866,564 in state funding


Fri, Mar 24th 2023 01:30 pm

Will ‘implement evidence-based approaches to improve investigations and save lives’

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new initiative to help police and prosecutors in five jurisdictions solve non-fatal shootings and prevent retaliatory gun violence. Police departments in Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Troy and Utica and their county district attorneys' offices will share $866,564 in state funding to implement evidence-based approaches to improve investigations and save lives.

Demonstration projects funded in Newburgh and Utica by the State Division of Criminal Justice Services increased the clearance rate of non-fatal shootings in both cities.

"As we work to reduce gun violence, it is critical that we solve non-fatal shootings and prevent retaliation in the form of additional gun violence," Hochul said. "We know that, when these crimes are left unsolved, retaliation can turn deadly. This funding provides police and prosecutors the resources they need to solve non-fatal shootings, prevent retaliation and reduce overall gun violence."

Earlier this week, Hochul announced new statewide crime data and highlighted the need for public safety investments and reforms in the fiscal year 2024 budget.

Hochul’s team said, “Law enforcement across New York state have reported that small groups of individuals are responsible for the majority of gun violence in the communities they serve, but these cases can be difficult to solve due to a lack of resources necessary to gather and review evidence, as well as challenges in gleaning information from victims and witnesses, who are often afraid or unwilling to cooperate with investigators. Lack of closure on these cases often contributes to retaliatory violence, as well as a lack of community trust in law enforcement.

“The new grant funding, which runs through June 30, will support dedicated teams of police, prosecutors and crime analysts who work together to solve non-fatal shooting cases from the point at which they are reported, as is more commonly seen in homicide investigations. This collaboration will enable teams to secure crime scenes and gather and preserve evidence immediately, increasing the odds of identifying those responsible for non-fatal shootings.” 

The $866,564 in grants also will support funding for overtime costs and equipment for the following law enforcement agencies:

  • Buffalo Police Department: $248,970
  • Erie County District Attorney: $68,482
  • Rochester Police Department: $134,100
  • Monroe County District Attorney: $55,313
  • Schenectady Police Department: $89,349
  • Schenectady County District Attorney: $65,840
  • Utica Police Department $45,200
  • Oneida County District Attorney: $47,600
  • Troy Police Department: $80,272
  • Rensselaer County District Attorney: $31,438

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, "These grants will help fund dedicated teams of police, prosecutors and crime analysts who can rely upon and implement a proven, evidence-based approach to solving these crimes. We commend Gov. Hochul for her support of this initiative and for her leadership on implementing proven, effective strategies to reduce gun violence."

The funding to these agencies will continue through the state's Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative as of July 1. The Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Troy and Utica police departments are among the 20 that participate in the initiative, which also provides training and technical assistance to police departments in 17 counties that report about 80% of violent and gun crime in the state outside of New York City. District attorneys' offices, sheriffs' offices, probation departments and other partners in those counties also receive funding through the initiative.

In 2016, DCJS selected Newburgh and Utica to participate in a demonstration project aimed at strengthening investigations into non-fatal shootings. DCJS provided support to assist the localities with solving these incidents in their jurisdictions, regardless of victim or witness cooperation. The localities committed to conducting thorough investigations into all non-fatal shootings, with early involvement from district attorneys' offices to support evidence-based prosecutions. Written protocols also were established to outline step-by-step investigative actions and to delegate which personnel were responsible for each step.

The John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety researched, evaluated and analyzed investigative activities and arrest data from 2014 through 2019 and reported significantly improved clearance rates in both cities during the three years after the demonstration launched, compared to the three years before implementation. Utica's clearance rate for non-fatal shootings rose from 23% to 36%, while Newburgh's clearance rate increased from 14% to 40%, as noted in a Criminal Justice Knowledge Bank research brief about the demonstration project.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said, "I am extremely grateful to the governor for recognizing the need to address violent crime. This non-fatal shooting initiative is going to be beneficial to keeping our community safe."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "The Buffalo Police Department continues to work and partner with the community to end senseless gun violence. I thank Gov. Hochul for providing this funding that will help our police department expand its investigatory capacity. We look forward to working with Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and his dedicated staff to maximize these resources for the best public safety outcomes for our residents."

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia said, "As we continue to see significant decreases in shootings and violent crime here in Buffalo, we thank Gov. Hochul's continued assistance and commitment to saving lives in Buffalo and all of New York. The funding provided here will help our department bring to justice those individuals driving gun violence in our community, utilizing a proven data-driven approach."

Cities were chosen based on shooting data and need for additional resources. Those participating submitted written plans for implementation, after convening meetings with stakeholders, including representatives from police departments, district attorneys' offices and DCJS-funded regional crime analysis centers, which provide assistance to law enforcement.

Each jurisdiction receiving funding will review research briefs on the Utica and Newburgh project; collect and maintain data on non-fatal shootings before and after implementation; assign investigators dedicated to non-fatal shootings; develop written protocols and checklists to be used while investigating each non-fatal shooting; provide monthly updates on cases not closed and outline factors limiting and preventing closure; attend DCJS-specified trainings; coordinate closely through the completion of each case; assign an on-call assistant district attorney to non-fatal shootings; and track the dispositions of each case.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multifunction criminal justice support agency and has a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state's DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state's sex offender registry.

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