State money earmarked for ‘boots on the ground’ efforts to curb Buffalo gun violence

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Four state lawmakers from Buffalo are funneling more money into the streets of the Queen City in hopes of curbing violence. On Tuesday, Senators Tim Kennedy and Sean Ryan and Assemblymembers Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Jon Rivera announced that $200,000 set aside during the state budget process has been secured for Buffalo Peacemakers and the Stop the Violence Coalition.

“This money will go a long way in assisting the Peacemakers and Stop the Violence in bringing just that: peace,” Senator Kennedy said.

Peace is much needed. As of Tuesday, there have been 49 homicides in Buffalo in 2021, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s office. That puts the city on pace to match the record number of 94 homicides set in 1994.

Pastor James Giles, who runs Back to Basics Ministries, said the state money would be used to employ people who can provide boots on the ground engagement with the community.

“We’re not looking for administrative stuff. We have administrative help,” Giles said. “We’re looking for boots on the ground.”

Meanwhile, James P. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, is preparing to meet with the Stop the Violence Coalition and Back to Basics staff on Wednesday to discuss efforts to reduce gun violence. Kennedy has already announced the creation of a task force designed to cut down on violence by enhancing targeted enforcement and federal prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Kennedy says it’s key that the community understands the objective.

“We’re there targeting members of the community because of the conduct that they’re committing and these extreme acts of violence,” Kennedy said. “There is a reason why law enforcement focus may be directed there, because that’s where the violence is occurring.”

The meeting will take place at the Back to Basics office on William St. at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Members of the community are welcome to attend.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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