On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a first-in-the-nation gun violence disaster emergency, as part of a new effort to stop the rising gun violence in cities across the state.
This new strategy treats gun violence as a public health crisis, using short-term solutions to manage the immediate gun violence crisis and reduce the shooting rate, as well as long-term solutions that focus on community-based intervention and prevention strategies to break the cycle of violence.
The disaster emergency allows the State to expedite money and resources to communities so they can begin targeting gun violence immediately.
Cuomo also announced the launch of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The Governor also required by Executive Order major police departments to share incident-level data on gun violence with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to compile this data weekly. The data will be used by the new Office of Gun Violence Prevention to track emerging gun violence hotspots and deploy resources to those areas that need it most.
State Sen. Tom O’Mara, who represents a large chunk of the Southern Tier, condemned the new emergency order- calling it a political move.
“Governor Cuomo is making it clear where New York State is headed under his continued reign – from one emergency disaster declaration to the next so that he and he alone can keep on issuing executive orders, controlling public policy, infringing on constitutional rights and individual liberties, dictating the allocation of taxpayer dollars, and running this entire state out of Albany,” O’Mara said. “We saw the failures of state government by Cuomo executive order throughout the COVID-19 crisis and our local Upstate communities, economies, workers and taxpayers will be paying the price for years to come. The most serious state of emergency in New York is Governor Cuomo’s ongoing abuses of power for political and personal gain. It doesn’t take another Cuomo executive order to know that rising crime and violence, and weakened public safety and security, is the result of the pro-criminal policies being enacted and pushed by this governor and a State Legislature under one-party control. They have emboldened the criminal element throughout this state through failed bail reform, lenient parole policies, an out-of-control Parole Board, a growing ‘defund the police’ movement, and an overall careless approach to criminal justice.”
Sen. Pam Helming, who represents the central portion of the Finger Lakes in the 54th District voiced similar concerns with the declaration. “We can all agree that crime and violence must end, and our neighborhoods and families must be kept safe. One thing the Legislature can do immediately is repeal the so-called bail and parole reforms, and stop the closure of local correctional facilities. These initiatives don’t hold criminals accountable, or get people the mental health services they need, or make our families and communities safer,” Sen. Helming said. “I stand with our law enforcement officers. I have fought to direct funding to our local sheriff’s departments for Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to help those experiencing a mental health crisis. We must work together – government, law enforcement, mental health and other service providers – to keep everyone safe. I don’t believe the solution is to operate in another state of emergency that puts all the power in the Governor’s hands once again.”
The Cuomo-led effort also includes a $138.7 million investment in intervention and prevention programs, including programs that engage at-risk youth in summer job opportunities and community activity programs to get young people off the streets, and supports ongoing gun violence prevention programs.
The Governor also announced the creation of a new State Police Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit to stop the flood of illegal guns that come into New York from states with weak gun safety laws.
“We’re building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID. If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID – this is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it,” Governor Cuomo said. “Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence. When we see an injustice we don’t look the other way, we stand up and fight it because that’s the New York way.”