BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) - Seven people were shot in Buffalo Saturday, in two separate incidents, renewing the debate between the two men running for the Mayor's Office about how the city is dealing with violent crime.
Four people were injured around 3:45 AM Saturday in a shooting outside New Foster's Lounge on Jefferson Avenue. Then, about 10:10 PM, three more people were shot on Townsend Street. Of the seven total victims, four remained hospitalized in critical condition Sunday evening.
The man trying to unseat two-term Mayor Byron Brown points to the weekend violence to back up his claims that the current approach to curbing violence in Buffalo isn't working.
"Both shootings and homicides are up," says Republican challenger Sergio Rodriguez. "And so it's irresponsible for the administration to pretend as though crime is down. We see that every day. What people are living, and what they're seeing, is very different than the picture that the administration wants us to think about."
But according to Brown's spokesman, Mike DeGeorge, the overall incidence of crime in the city has fallen by 20 percent, since Brown took office in 2006. More specifically, DeGeorge tells News 4, since this time last year, shootings in Buffalo have decreased by 30 percent.
Rodriguez has been harshly critical of some of the Brown administration's crime-fighting initiatives, most notably the Gun Buyback program.
"Think about it. The way the current Gun Buyback program works, if you're a criminal, you just killed somebody, you can turn in the weapon, the city will pay you money for it and they'll destroy the evidence without asking any questions. How much sense does that make?" Rodriguez asks.
Rodriguez is also a strong proponent of installing dash cameras in all police cruisers, and of increasing foot patrols throughout the city. He believes those officers having more face-to-face contact with city residents will increase their sense of trust and willingness to come forward with information about unsolved crimes.
"We need to... put our police officers back on the street, on foot patrol, walking the beat [and] building relationships," says Rodriguez.
DeGeorge notes that the city has installed some 200 surveillance cameras and hired over 200 new police officers during Brown's tenure in office. All of that, he says, has contributed to the 20 percent overall reduction in crime.
But from the Mayor's perspective, he added, "Any crime is one too many."
Buffalo Police continue to investigate both weekend shootings, asking anyone with knowledge of either incident to call or text the TIPCALL line at 847-2255. All information is kept confidential.
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