Updated 09/27/2012 09:02 PM
New initiative to combat gang violence
Syracuse has been working to reduce gun and gang violence for years. Now, it has funding to devote more resources to the cause. Syracuse is one of nine cities nationally to receive a grant from the Department of Justice. Our Iris St. Meran was at an official announcement and tells us more about a new program called Syracuse Truce.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- United States Attorney Richard Hartunian said, "We cannot prosecute our way out of the gang and gun violence problem."
With more than 20 active gangs in Syracuse, city and federal officials are looking beyond the courtroom. More resources will be added to high risk areas, primarily on the south and west sides of Syracuse. A $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice has allowed them to create "Syracuse Truce."
Hartunian said, "The goal here is to secure a truce. That is to stop the violence by diminishing that violence between gangs and reducing tension between the communities that are suffering from this plague."
The city already has a gang violence task force and in 2003 there were a number of federal prosecutions of gang members. Syracuse Truce, however, will focus on deterrence.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said, "There are lots of times people will say to me as mayor of the city, 'I made bad choices, I'm trying to help straighten out my life, can you help me?'"
The grant will be distributed over two years and the program will use strategies which include enhanced enforcement, which will have 40 street saturation patrols, street outreach, call-in meetings, media component, where convictions will be publicized, work community organizations and evaluation of the program.
They're looking to work with high risk offenders who are on probation or parole. And use community leaders and clergy to reach the m and provide options like social service and job placement among other things.
"If they can learn their lesson through a project like this when they are at that stage and not continue this type of behavior, this is a great opportunity for us to save society and to save them," added Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.
They acknowledge this problem won't go away over night, but hope this grass roots approach will be the beginning of change.
The program is expected to be up and running after October 1st.