SNUG Gun Violence Program Comes to Niagara Falls | Crime News

A street outreach program aimed at reducing gun violence will soon be expanded to Niagara Falls, Governor Kathy Hochul announced this week.

Hochul announced $1.5 million in the recently passed state budget to expand the state’s SNUG Street Outreach program to Niagara Falls and two other upstate cities. The program is already underway in Buffalo.

“New York State will continue to use every resource at our disposal to address gun violence and violent crime on our streets,” Hochul said in a statement. “I am proud to extend the reach of the program to these communities, and we will continue to take strong action to end the scourge of gun violence and usher in a safer New York for all.”

Since 2020, gun violence has increased in New York and in states across the country.

The state is seeking proposals for nonprofit groups to run the program, which focuses on mediating conflict, mentoring youth, and working with residents and organizations to change community norms regarding gun violence.

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Selected organizations could receive up to $500,000 to establish the program, state officials said. The application deadline is June 7 and application details are available on the State Department of Criminal Justice Services website.

DCJS posted a video on the operation of the program. The video features two young black men who turned away from street life with the help of counselors. Gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color, the video says.

ZaQuawn Graves, who joined the program in Albany, explained in the video that he started hanging out with the wrong people and ended up being charged with possession of a firearm.

When he joined the SNUG program, he was paired with street worker supervisor Emerald Cancer-Jackson, who began advising Graves on alternatives to violence.

“It takes a lot for someone when they’re in the heat of the moment to pick up the phone and call someone, instead of just going to grab a gun,” Cancer-Jackson said.

In Albany, where the program is operational, outreach workers distribute flyers and hold a protest event at a busy intersection as part of a “shooting response” after a violent shooting.

Outreach workers often come from the communities in which they work, making residents more likely to trust them and listen when they explain the benefits of joining the program.

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