BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Making streets safer in Buffalo is no small task, but area law enforcement agencies say working together is yielding results. There is no shortage of gang-related violence in the city, but officers say it's finally decreasing, thanks to a joint effort across agencies. Two of the area's top law enforcement leaders say they have a formula that is working.
The violence brought on by gangs in the City of Buffalo has far-reaching implications. There are killings, drug dealings, robberies and extortion. Thanks to a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement, gangs are slowly but surely being dismantled.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda calls it a "perfect, perfect situation." He says the strategy is working so well it should become a national model.
Derenda said, "We work as one. I mean, there's no egos involved here. We work. We sit at the same table. We formulate strategies."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Piehota echoes that. He says the federal system can bring stiffer penalties to bear.
Piehota said, "It's a powerful tool where our partners can take them off the street immediately. With the federal system we put them away. They don't come back for a long time, sometimes ever."
The locals gather intelligence and share the information with their partners. Then the cases are prosecuted at the federal level.
Piehota says it tough to break gang culture. He said, "It's difficult to because a lot of the folks see it as their only way of life."
Despite the maze of gang activity, authorities have produced some amazing results. Since 2010, 19 homicides have been cleared on a federal level and more than 140 gang members have been prosecuted.
News 4 asked Derenda, "How much of the violent crime that happens in the city is a result of gang activity?"
Derenda said, "Much of the violent crime is by a small percentage of the population. When you get these violent individuals off the street, many of them have gang ties. Many of them are gang members."
Commissioner Derenda says crime in the City of Buffalo has been reduced by nearly 20 percent since 2005. He attributed much of that to the law enforcement relationships that now exist.
Piehota said, "That type of interaction gives us that common goal of making the community safe."
There is still work to be done in the City of Buffalo. It's been almost one year since a violent shooting shattered the peace at Buffalo's MLK Park. So far no one has been arrested. The shooting left one person dead and four others injured.
Derenda says authorities are very close to making an arrest. Derenda said, "It is important to the community that we get this case solved. And as I said, I am confident that there will be an arrest in this case in the not too distant future."
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