Federal officials creating task force to curb surge of gun violence in Buffalo and Rochester


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Federal officials are now stepping in to put an end to this gun violence happening across Western New York. Wednesday, law enforcement agencies gathered in Rochester to announce a new initiative.

The “VIPER” task force is the federal government’s answer to the surge of gun violence happening in Rochester and Buffalo.

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr. announced the program alongside federal and local law enforcement agencies. Kennedy says this will put an emphasis on community policing and allow law enforcement to work with residents to get illegal guns off the street and to track down criminals involved in these shootings.

Wednesday’s news conference took place in Rochester’s Corn Hill neighborhood, where a mother was recently shot and killed while inside her car with her children. Kennedy says incidents like that and the shootings involving children at JFK park and on Donovan Drive in Buffalo show enough is enough.

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“The communities most impacted by violence in my area of responsibility are Buffalo and Rochester. We’re standing up a similar task force tomorrow, we’re announcing it in Buffalo. The objectives are exactly the same – to try and establish a baseline of public safety.”

Thursday’s announcement in Buffalo took place at JFK Park. During the conference, Kennedy shared the following statistics:

Number of murders in Buffalo

  • 2017: 41
  • 2018: 44
  • 2020: 65

Kennedy says that Buffalo is on pace for more than 90 murders this year.

For the next 60 days, agencies like the DEA, FBI, and U.S. Marshall’s office will be patrolling areas with the most gun violence and speaking with residents who live in those areas.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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