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Gun violence detail hits streets in Syracuse to combat increase in shootings, homicides

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO File Photo
A Syracuse Police Department detail focused on gun voilence is targeting individuals causing crime in certain areas.

Syracuse, like many other communities across the country, has seen an increase in shootings and homicides during the coronavirus pandemic. Police are hoping a new detail is cutting into that.

According to the latest figures from Mayor Ben Walsh, homicides are up 50% from a year ago. The number of shootings has increased dramatically: by midsummer, the city had as many shootings already in 2020 as in all of 2019. To deal with this increasing gun crime, Syracuse Police created a special unit to try and get numbers down. By early September, a Gun Violence Protection Detail hit the streets. Chief Kenton Buckner says the idea was using intelligence to target individuals causing crime in certain areas.

"We did not want to cast these wide nets, where we go into communities and we are stopping any and everyone in a community,” Buckner said. “We all understand there are a small group of people causing a lot of anguish and pain and hate in our community. So we want to focus on the few individuals causing the problem instead of broad brushing an entire community.”

Since the detail started working, there have been more than 150 felony arrests, about 250 misdemeanor arrests, and cops have confiscated a dozen guns, along with drugs and cash. Buckner says much of the violence is connected to drugs and gangs, and he hopes the detail can make a dent in what has turned out to be a violent year.

"It is our hope that short term, mid-term, that we’re able to get our arms around the violent crime that is going on in our community,” Buckner said.