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Onondaga County, New York state looking at ways to curb gun violence

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Gun violence continues to ravage central New York. The latest incident last weekend in a popular downtown Syracuse neighborhood left one man dead and four others injured while police officers stood less than 50 feet away. Now, New York and Onondaga County are both pitching in to try to deter the epidemic of gun violence.

Last weekend’s Armory Square shooting has prompted Onondaga County to begin a deterrence strategy using probation officers in busy downtown neighborhoods. County Executive Ryan McMahon said four probation officers will begin patrolling downtown on weekend evenings, looking for potential probation violators.

"Certainly they’ll be visiting multiple establishments, walking through, talking to businesses owners,” McMahon said. “Usually how this works is, they see the probation department and they get out of there."

Onondaga County has already added probation patrols at Destiny USA, following a spate of gun related incidents at the mall earlier this year.

For its part, New York state will be coming through with cash to help deal with gun violence. The recently passed state budget includes $227 million to help strengthen gun violence prevention efforts.

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado says that investment is a game-changer. She is crossing the state for a series of roundtable discussions, looking for local input on ways to spend some of that cash. Following a closed-door session with local leaders in Syracuse Thursday, Rosado noted issues she heard in central New York are the same in other regions in the state.

"We heard about mental health issues, focused on trauma, the need for those programs to address trauma that children are going through,” said Rosado. “We also heard loud and clear it’s necessary to increased number of summer opportunities for youth and to open up gyms and churches and provide opportunities beyond schools and other sources for engaging our youth.”

Rosado also said Syracuse leaders had concerns about streamlining the funding progress from the state. And while the problems leading to gun violence remain the same, it’s the answers that can be tailored to an individual community.

"We’re here to listen to those differences, and not do one program that covers the state,” Rosado said. “We want to tailor those solutions to Syracuse.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.