New York State Police developing red flag database to track threats

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Posted at 3:00 AM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 07:22:16-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 7 News I-Team has learned a state database is being created to catalog who has been red flagged — their guns taken away— by a judge.

This comes after the I-Team reported there is no actual red flag list in New York State.

As we near two months since the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue, the I-Team discovered government officials — from the highest level in state government to the executive in county government — have no idea who is red flagged. That also includes New York State Police themselves, the district attorney and even schools.

People who've had their guns taken away under an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) pose an imminent risk to themselves or the public. A judge decides if an order should be issued against them to have guns taken away.

Governor Kathy Hochul told 7 News I-Team investigator Ed Drantch, there simply wasn't the infrastructure for a red flag database set up in the past.

"There will be," Hochul said. "We're focused on that."

With no database right now, we asked when this new one might be online. The governor would not give a timeline.

"You can't just create a database from nothing," Hochul said. "There was a strong need. I've focused on this and our State Police is working on this as we speak."

Still, the governor said she feels a sense of urgency to get this information out to people who need to know.

But the I-Team pointed out, in speaking with Hochul, even she is not in the know.

The governor said this is a local issue.

"I represent 20 million people in the State of New York. I don't know there's going to be a process where every single red flag comes to my desk. That's what I have local law enforcement for. It's their responsibility. We've empowered them. We've empowered them to do what's right to protect the citizens. I will be monitoring the situation at large — the overall."

Hochul said she wants to make sure "it's actually in the hands of the people that can take direct action" and get guns away from people who a judge deems is a threat.

Statewide, 658 people have had an ERPO filed against them, between January 1, 2021 and June 28, 2022. That includes 34 Western New Yorkers — 21 of whom are from Erie County.

Governor Hochul said there is work to do here and changes are being made.