BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new a multi-faceted intervention program has been established to help teens impacted by gun violence in Buffalo.
The program takes children in Buffalo between 12 and 17 who are at risk of becoming the victim and/or the perpetrator of a shooting to participate in the pilot program, and focuses on issues of restorative justice, harm reduction and trauma-informed care.
“We are seeing too many young people directly involved in gun violence in Buffalo. Even worse, we have teenage shooting victims who later become a shooter and vice versa. Whenever possible, I want to give a second chance to teens who are on the wrong path or who have made a bad choice. This program provides immediate intervention and an opportunity for that teen, who may be at-risk of being shot on our streets or becoming involved in the criminal justice system, a chance to get some guidance and turn their life around before it’s too late,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
“The Buffalo Police Department Community Policing liaison, under the command of Captain Champion, and the Buffalo Police School Resource Unit, under the command of Chief Young, has collaborated with our community partners in an effort to provide resources and support to our youth who have been or potentially could be victims of gun violence. The Buffalo Police Department has a School Resource unit, dedicated to working alongside our youth within the schools as well as with parents and guardians in the community to provide assistance and resources. The Buffalo Police Department understands that the needs of our youth and their parents are often complex and require a different approach based on those needs. We proudly work with our community partners to help address those needs. We use an individual approach based off the relationships that our community police officers and school resource officers have built with the youth as well as the resources and expertise provided through the High-Risk Youth Team. Our youth and their parents/guardians face compounding challenges within the community, the goal of the school resource officers and community police officers in this collaboration is to reduce the harm that gun violence has on our youth and their families. We do this through teaching, coaching, mentoring, community services, social work outreach, and personal development. This allows us to build the character of our youth so that they understand decision making, consequences for those decisions, accountability, resiliency, and integrity. The end goal is to use our relationships with our youth and collaboration with the High-Risk Youth Team to aid our youth in becoming successful productive leaders in our community,” said Lt. Kelly Craig of the Buffalo Police Department.
“Violence is a public health epidemic that has impacted our youth in devastating ways. By collaborating and building on local capacity our goal is to connect these adolescents with resources for school success, job readiness, health and most importantly address the individual’s trauma,” said Paula Kovanic Spiro, Program Coordinator of B.R.A.V.E. at ECMC.
The team works with teens to develop a plan designed on the specific needs of each participant to figure out what they need, and parents are allowed to participate.