BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Shootings and homicides dramatically increased in Buffalo in the first part of 2021. Some predicted this year would be Buffalo's most violent year yet. Anti-violence community leaders are now saying they are confident Buffalo's shooting and homicide numbers will trend down for the rest of the year.
"We can change the data. That's what we're doing," Murray Holman, the executive director of the Stop the Violence Coalition, said.
"This is not going to be the most violent year. No. I feel good about the work and some of the things. They're dumping resources in," Pastor James Giles, the president and CEO of Back to Basics Ministries, said.
Holman and Giles said the decrease is largely due to community groups presence returning to the streets.
"We're patrolling neighborhoods where that element would exist but because of our presence there, they're thinking twice about it," Pastor Giles said.
Holman and Giles said their efforts combined with that of the Viper Task Force are what are driving those numbers down.
"They're making sure things go smoothly through the city. The collaboration with law enforcement and community based groups is working to lower that. I can feel the tension going down," Holman said.
Within the first month of the Viper Task Force's creation, U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy said they had made nearly 60 firearms related arrests, almost 180 narcotics related arrests and nearly 60 violent felony arrests. 17 firearms were seized.
Anti-violence leaders said it's much more than weapons seizures and arrests.
"The involvement is really changing the mindset of some of these guys that really want to be bad guys and throughout our community," Holman said.
Now, community leaders said it's time to aim even higher.
"They're getting some of the guns, which is a start, but we're looking for something greater than that. We're looking for them to kick in the doors of someones house that they're distributing the guns. I know they have thirty weapons up in that house," Giles said.