An anti-gang initiative we first learned about in the fall took its first step forward Wednesday. The goal of Syracuse Truce is to reduce and prevent violence by reaching out to gang members and offering up alternative options. Our Iris St. Meran has more on the very first set of meetings for the project.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler has a message to anyone associated with a gang or has used a gun to harm someone.
Fowler said, "If you want to change, we're here for you. If you choose not to change, we're coming after you.
It's a message brought to these individuals through an initiative called Syracuse Truce. The program was first announced in the fall.
The city was one of nine to be awarded $300,000 in federal funds. The project increases enforcement while providing services such as substance abuse treatment and employment assistance to try and curb the violence.
Wednesday, the partnership met with 19 members of actively violent groups to speak to them face to face about the consequences and opportunities available if they want to change.
"Some were on probation. Some were on parole. Some were on federal probation. So we utilized those resources to get people in the room. The gang taskforce went out and delivered people letters, some of the young men came in on their own accord," Fowler said.
Authorities know of 27 gangs in the city and there are approximately 1,500 people considered to be Truce candidates. The police department says every officer will be trained to work under Syracuse Truce.
So far this year, there have been three homicides. Timothy Jennings-Bey is usually on the scene as part of the Trauma Response Team assisting families. He also has a message.
Jennings-Bey said, "I want to say to the community, people who may be watching, people in the audience in this instance, silence is consent. We can no longer sit by and be silent about this."
They know stopping the violence won't be easy, but hope more people will feel empowered to step up in their own way to make all neighborhoods safer.
The chief says three more of these Truce notifications are planned.