Governor Hochul Announces New SNUG Street Outreach Staff Being Trained to Deploy to Communities to Address Gun Violence Epidemic

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality format (h.264, mp4) here.

SOUND of the event is available here.

PICTURES of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A quick transcript of the governor’s remarks is available below.:

Hello everyone and thank you, Commissioner Bray, it’s a pleasure to see you in this context. I often see Commissioner Bray doing everything from battling storms to dealing with utility outages and power outages. So she’s using her talents here to work on a cause that I think is very important, that we all need to have a holistic approach so that all of my commissioners are fully engaged in working on the crime crisis on our streets. And I want to thank her for her leadership and her comments here today. I also want to thank our Commissioner of Criminal Justice Services, as someone who was our Secretary of State, and who now brings his passion for problem solving into his work. And this is Rosana Rosado. And also, Jerome Brown, who is our director of SNUG training. I want to thank you all.

And I want you to know why this is such an important program for me. In fact, I was very familiar with the SNUG program which was developed in Western New York, in Buffalo, where I lived. My husband was a federal prosecutor worked closely with former gang members, people had been on the streets. All with the goal of making the streets safer for people to live and play, go to work and care for their children. So it’s an important program because I know it works. I want to continue to invest in what we know has proven itself.

So I want to thank each and every one of you for believing in the cause of SNUG and how important it is, and for using the experiences of your life. Because we think about the people we’re trying to persuade to take a different path. Young people in particular, many of whom grew up in a neighborhood where they don’t see a successful role model. They only know the streets from their father, maybe their older brothers, and it becomes a cycle of violence because they think they have no other options. And the people who have been there, who have lived through it, and who have overcome it, come out stronger.

I’m so grateful to you for coming here, for being trained, for understanding that the power you have to change the lives of individuals who might otherwise end up on the streets or in jail, in jail, or worse, themselves be killed by armed violence. So we know gun violence is an epidemic at this point, the numbers have continued to rise since the pandemic, but it’s not just New York State. It’s not just New York, but we’ll continue to focus on the neighborhoods where you’ll be deployed. Albany, Buffalo, Hempstead, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy and Yonkers.

Let’s expand those programs, and see that it’s not just happening here, but it’s here that we’re going to start bringing those crime numbers down, because behind every statistic, there’s a grieving family. The loss of a brother, the loss of a sister, the loss of a parent, and there is too much grief in our society now. We’ve been through a very difficult time with the pandemic, two solid years of people being constrained and not having the normal support system. And now many people are venting their anger and anxiety on the streets. And that’s why we need you more than ever. You have experienced this, some of you. You understand what the motivators are, what drives someone to make those bad decisions that can change their life forever. So I need you to help us use your skills. Mediate conflicts, mentor young people and work with local partners. Show them what success looks like, show them and tell them your own story. Because you will be on the front line in the fight against gun violence, and we are all counting on you, but make no mistake, what you are doing today truly sets you apart as a caring individual, someone who cares about the future and the lives of others. It’s powerful, it’s a form of public and community service.

And also, I want you to know that the state will continue its commitments, not only to support programs like this and to uplift leaders like you, but also in the following announced investments of $8.2 million, to bring more so we can bring more people to 12 existing SNUG sites. And it already joins more than 109 dedicated New Yorkers, 138 in total. We’ve had close to 40 hires since last fall, so that’s increasing our headcount, which is important. Raising the money for this, which is important. But also making sure we attract the best, and that’s who I’m talking to right now. You are the first class to train in this facility. It lets you experience real-life scenarios that you’ll face every day when you’re on the street. This warehouse, literally, it’s replicating a city and I’ve been there, I’ve done some of the training there and you’re going to be joined by others.

And I want you to know in my state of the state speech and my budget speech that I talked about this program because I believe in this program and I said, I will triple the amount of l investment we already have. Let’s go to $24 million, almost $25 million to support that. So let’s expand what we’re already doing in Utica, Schenectady and Niagara Falls. So you’re part of this army, I need you. I need you there. I need you to bring your talents and experiences to solve street problems. And as a result, I guarantee you we’ll have more guns on the streets.

We will have more young people finding their way to a productive life. To integrate into society, to follow a vocational training, to have one’s own family and to live successfully. And you will be the ones who made that difference. And that is a profound opportunity that each of us who feels called to serve others has and I want to thank you all for what you are willing to do. As I mentioned, gun violence is high. We try to hit it on different fronts. Last month, I met with President Biden and our federal attorney general, Merrick Garland, and we talked about what we could do. You know, focusing on keeping people safe and coordinating with people, you know, sometimes law enforcement works in silos.

You know, the locals do this, the state does that, the feds do that, the FBI and the ATF and others. People all have intelligence, they know what’s going on. They know who the players are, but they don’t share the information. So we said, and working with the mayor of New York and mayors across New York State, let’s bring it all together.

Common goal: no reason to have our own territory battles when we have to fight battles in the streets. So our goal is to use data and analytics, find out where the highest rates of gun violence are, the highest crime incidents right now, and deploy people like you to those same neighborhoods as well.

We also talked about how we can keep guns off the streets. In January, I launched the first national consortium on illegal weapons. We have law enforcement representatives from nine states, as well as the NYPD, Boston PD and Federal ATF. Never before have they been brought together for a common purpose, which is to find the guns and stop them before they hit our streets.

Because 80% of the guns used in New York – they came from another street. They came from another place. They were from another state. So investing in human intelligence, information gathering analysis and use of technology is another way to continue to fight criminal activity. So we’re going to add even more money to that, $13 million more there, as well as triple the amount of money for our state police gun tracing efforts as well.

So we take this issue seriously. When I talk about all these other programs, I deeply believe that what will work best, the best, is the work that you are going to do. The training, the connections you make, the relationships you build, the support network you will benefit from being part of this program.

And then go where people need you, they need a sign of hope. They must have faith that they will not have the life that seems to be made for them because of the zip code in which they were born. No, you’re going to give them a brand new start. And for that, all New Yorkers are grateful to you for participating in this training and for agreeing to be part of our family, helping to save lives and protect people on our streets, so thank you.

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