NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) — As Niagara Falls police work to investigate a string of crimes, new help is coming to the cataract city to help it crack down on gun violence.
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On Thursday Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Niagara Falls will be one of three cities in the state included in an expansion to what's known as the "SNUG" program.
The program is already in a dozen other cities around the state, including Buffalo; it is part of the state's comprehensive plan to address growing gun violence.
"SNUG" uses nonprofit groups to focus on mediating conflicts, mentoring youth, and working with communities to change norms about gun violence.
Hochul said Niagara Falls, Schenectady and Utica will each receive $500,000 in state money to start their own “SNUG” programs.
Coordinator of WNY Peacemakers, Pastor James Giles said a program like “SNUG” expanding to Niagara Falls could be the first step in bringing community together.
"There are some very gifted individuals that are over there capable of being outreach workers or violence interrupters,” Giles said.
He said through “SNUG,” Niagara Falls could also hire a community social worker to help victims deal with the trauma of shootings.
But a string of violence is no shock for lifelong residents of Niagara Falls, Jody Boback said these incidents feel like a daily occurrence.
"There's cops blaring down my street almost every night because of it,” Boback said.
And Brian Archie said when he was young there would be a few fist fights now and then, but nothing like this; he said it’s a disappointment.
"The gun play is a just a thing that's increased over the past couple years,” Archie said.
Archie said he thinks to address gun violence, other factors need to be looked at too.
"Poverty and drug abuse and things like that,” Archie said. “I think that plays into it and needs to be attended to.”
And Archie said he thinks reaching out to youth is also essential.
"I think we have opportunity to really bring some of the young people together,” Archie said. “Meeting them where them where they are."
Giles said it’s also important for witnesses to start speaking up.
"As soon as we begin to create a system where people know they're going to get caught, where someone will testify against them, they'll stop shooting in broad daylight,” Giles said.