BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — According to the Erie County District Attorney, while overall crime is decreasing in the Queen City, there has been a dramatic increase in shootings in the City of Buffalo.
"What doesn't make sense is the shootings and the homicides are an anomaly to the overall crime statistic numbers," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said, "The reality is in the past two years, we have over a 200% increase in the number of people who have been shot, non-fatal and the number of people have been killed."
Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said there has been a 71% increase in shootings with injuries from 2020 to 2021.
"I firmly believe it starts with bail reform back on January 1st 2020, then you get hit with the pandemic, you get hit with the year of protests, it's a multitude of things," Gramaglia said.
Both Flynn and Gramaglia said the pandemic induced loss of community policing is contributing to the increase as well.
"There's a lot of violence intervention work done by the city, done by the Peacemakers and SNUG and various other organizations. Everybody was hampered," Gramaglia said.
They said it's those organizations that help prevent gang activity, which is what they believe is motivating a great deal of these shootings.
"You've got some loose cliques, lose gangs that are out there and they're kind of running a bit but we also have some very organized street gangs," Gramaglia said.
Of those gangs, both Gramaglia and Flynn said there's not many individuals who are actually pulling the trigger.
"When you actually break it down and you get to your trigger pullers, the guys that are firing the guns and shooting people, that's a small number. They are absolutely responsible for the lion's share of the shootings that we're seeing," Gramaglia said.
Flynn said despite it being a small group of individuals committing these crimes, it's difficult to make arrests and file charges.
"No one talks.That's our biggest problem," Flynn said.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Police Department said its felony gun arrests are up almost 50% compared to last year.
"Unfortunately, far too many of those gun defendants are being let out at arraignment either on far too low of bail or in some instances they're released under the supervision of the department of probation... It's very frustrating to watch them walk out again," Gramaglia said.
The Buffalo Police Department said around 20% of shooting victims are out on a pending gun charge or on probation or parole.
"And that's a problem," Gramaglia said.