BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Federal Violent Prevention and Elimination Response task force, or VIPER, was officially announced on Thursday as law enforcement looks to stop the 100% increase in Queen City shootings this year. The main way they plan to do this is through "Proactive Policing".
"We are seeking to bring about more proactive policing, while at the same time, being sensitive to the factors that have diminished proactive policing in the last couple of years," James P. Kennedy, US Attorney for the Western New York District, said.
"Proactive policing" uses a community engaged approach to stop violence. Kennedy says he believes this starts with a fundamental change in the thinking that police officers are an enemy of the community.
"We need to stop thinking of us vs. them as the community vs. the cops," Kennedy said, "We need to start thinking of us vs. them as the community and the cops vs. violent offenders."
The VIPER task force will work with multiple federal state and local agencies to:
- Increase targeted enforcement
- Prioritize the arrest of individuals with illegal firearms
- Review every gun arrest to decide on what level they should be prosecuted.
The task force will be start with a 60 days period in hopes of seeing progress through the heat of the summer.
"This is an effort at prevention," Buffalo Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said, "the more we can intervene ahead of time will reduce the number of shootings that occur."
The first step of the program will be on July 14th at 4:00pm at the Back to Basics Ministry, 1370 Williams Street. This is where a meeting between the task force and the community will take place.