New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for gun violence on Tuesday, marking the first of its kind ever enacted in the United States, the governor’s office said.
According to Cuomo’s office, the emergency declaration requires the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to “gather and share incident-level data” from local law enforcement on gun violence and invests almost $140 million in intervention, prevention and jobs programs.
The order also establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to “coordinate efforts and direct resources to emerging gun violence hot spots” and creates a new state police gun trafficking unit to stem the flow of illegal firearms into New York.
“This new strategy treats gun violence as a public health crisis, using short-term solutions to manage the immediate gun violence crisis and reduce the shooting rate, as well as long-term solutions that focus on community-based intervention and prevention strategies to break the cycle of violence,” Gov. Cuomo’s office said in a statement. “The disaster emergency allows the State to expedite money and resources to communities so they can begin targeting gun violence immediately.”
The effort also includes moves to strengthen police-community relations by partnering with John Jay College of Criminal Justice “to help localities implement and assess the reform plans they developed through the landmark New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.”
In a statement issued Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo said his office would tackle “systemic injustices” related to gun violence in New York “just like we did with COVID.”
“We’re building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID. If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID – this is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it,” Gov. Cuomo said.
“Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence,” he continued. “When we see an injustice we don’t look the other way, we stand up and fight it because that’s the New York way.”
The governor’s office said the Office of Gun Violence Prevention established under the order will be overseen by the New York State Department of Health. The office will be led by a governor-appointed Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator who will “coordinate an all-of-government approach to ensure that state and local programs are advancing unified gun violence prevention strategies.”
“The Governor will also invite stakeholders to participate in a new Governor’s Council on Gun Violence Reduction to ensure coordination between the State, localities and community groups to address local needs,” the statement read. “The Council will review current laws and local proposals for reform and will make recommendations for changes based on science and data.”
Additionally, the state will employ a “cluster-based strategy” similar to the plan used with COVID to “contain and combat the epidemic and identify gun violence hot spots.”
The first “hot spots” identified include 4,090 young men aged 18-24 in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Long Island.