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Syracuse Safer Streets Program may soon be implemented

The $1 million Syracuse Safer Street initiative may soon be implemented.

The initial proposal included a weekly $100 stipend for 50 members of the community between the ages of 18-25 at highest risk of turning to violence to solve conflict. That proposal was dropped and now the program is broken down into four services: conflict mediation, mentorship and case management, individual and group therapy sessions and economic and educational opportunities.

Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens said referrals for the program will come from the Onondaga County Crime Analysis Center.

"If they refuse, I don't want them to continue down the path they're on, but right now that path is jail and we hope to God it does not include being harmed by gun violence," Owens said. "If you refuse the service, we would go back to find another individual, to give them the opportunity."

"The suggestion has been made by the Council that we not start with a list of 50, but a larger list, so that we can just continue to look at all of the individuals on that list," Owens continued. "The result of not being on the program is you're already on the radar of law enforcement and they will pursue. If your activities continue down the road of destruction of our community, then there are consequences for that.

The $1 million includes $120,000 used for workforce training incentives.

"What we're hoping is with that apprenticeship language and the internship language, that at some point we'll be able to filter these folks into maybe some of these city positions that we can't fill," Common Council President Helen Hudson said.

"I'm hoping that this counts as a work experience that is really tangible," Councilor Chol Majok added.

The item will be up for a vote at the Council's Monday meeting.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.