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27 gang members arrested in Syracuse on a wide range of charges

Tom Magnarelli
Officials announce the latest results from the Syracuse Truce program.

Syracuse Truce is a collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement to go after gun and gang violence in the city. Their most recent effort in the past three months resulted in 27 gang members being arrested on charges varying from murder to parole violation.

Two homicides towards the end of 2015 resulted in what is being called a “Truce trigger.” That is, when someone who is a gang member shoots and kills someone else, all the different levels of law enforcement, including social services, go directly after anyone involved in that gang. Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said this is the eighth “Truce trigger” initiated since the program began in 2012.

“We go after them for any and everything we can think of,” Fowler said.

Two were charged with murder but the other charges range from criminal possession of a firearm to assault, marijuana possession, even littering and breaking a park's curfew. Police use vehicle and traffic laws to see if someone has issues with their driver’s license. There is code enforcement where a suspect lives. It is all about making a gang member’s life as difficult as possible.  

“It’s never and it never will be our intent to eradicate gangs," Fowler said. "I could care less about a gang. It’s the violent criminal behavior that’s our focus.”

Fowler said in order to sustain their efforts, they need residents in the community to be their eyes and ears when they are not there.

"They have to pick up the phone and give us a call when they see criminal activity occurring,” Fowler said.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said police need help stopping the flow of guns from coming into the city.

“As long as you have the kind of volume of weapons available, where people can make instantaneous, rash bad decision, this is a scourge that is incredibly difficult to eradicate,” Miner said.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.