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State's Domestic Terrorism Task Force facing scrutiny

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Posted at 10:33 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 15:11:41-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The Buffalo mass shooting at Tops and the New York City subway mass shooting are putting a state task force under fire.

Criticism is coming from assembly republicans about the Domestic Terrorism Task Force formed in 2020; they said task force has not met since being created.

"I don't know if this task force wasn't paneled earlier or met earlier whether they would've come up with solutions to prevent these tragedies,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. “I don't want to quite make that direct line, but you certainly wonder."

The task force, created by former governor Andrew Cuomo, is supposed to have quarterly meetings to issue reports and recommendations with the goal of preventing senseless violence.

Specifically, one of its responsibilities is to recommend practices to identify potential mass shooters and prevent mass shooting incidents.

"They could have called a meeting on this,” Barclay said. “And I wish they'd done it long before this tragedy in Buffalo or the subway shooting in New York City."

The assembly minority sent this letter to Governor Kathy Hochul's office.

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The letter urges her to call on the task force to begin work. Hochul said she agrees, it is long overdue.

"It should have happened a long time ago but when I became governor, no one had even filled the positions,” Hochul said. “That was frustrating but we're moving ahead very quickly."

Last week, Governor Hochul authorized the creation of a full-time domestic terrorism task force unit.

"I want to make sure we have people looking at this all day long with an executive director,” Hochul said. “We've never before had that level of engagement.”

So, what will happen to the original group created?

Hochul said it has enough people for a quorum and the additional five seats will be filled, so the task force and new unit can work together.

"We will use the task force to help advise, but also I need a full-time group of people who will think of nothing other than the next attack,” Hochul said.

"I'm pleased that finally there seems to be recognition that we ought to get this thing going and meeting,” Barclay said.

Right now there is no official timeline for when the task force and new unit will begin meeting, but Hochul said they are on track to begin meeting in the near future.