BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Congressman Brian Higgins and other local officials gathered on Monday to provide an update on the county’s gun violence task force.

The task force, which is composed of law enforcement, anti-violence organizations and county agencies, was formed roughly one year ago.

“Did we ever think that we’d be worse than the Bronx with regard to violent crime with a firearm?…We know we have a very serious issue with regards to gun violence in our community,” Poloncarz said while announcing the task force last year.

Through 2020, homicides in Erie County had consistently increased year-to-year over a four-year span.

  • 2017: 46
  • 2018: 58
  • 2019: 59
  • 2020: 69

Most of those cases involved a firearm.

According to a July 20, 2021 executive order declaring gun violence as a public health crisis, Erie County “had the highest rate of violent crimes involving a firearm in 2020, per capita, across New York State.” That equates to 130.7 crimes involving a firearm per 100,000 residents.

The state average at the time was 57.4 per 100,000 residents. New York City’s average was 77.6 crimes per 100,000 residents.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.