SNUG aims to reduce gun violence in Utica
SNUG is guns spelled backward. It is also the name of a statewide gun violence prevention program coming to Utica.
Integrated Community Alternatives Network, ICAN, of Utica received state funding to establish the prevention program in their community. Team members will lead community initiatives to keep youth out of harm's way. Allison Jackson, the chief program officer at ICAN said that these team leaders will have their own experiences to share.
"They are what we call 'credible messengers'," Jackson said. "Every street outreach staff, should and will have lived experience. So what that means is they at some point touched the criminal justice system."
Team leaders will work directly with the Utica community to provide programs and activities for youth in the area. Lisa Reginelli, the director of transitional services at ICAN, said that the teams will focus on working with youth who may have been touched by violence.
"That team is embedded in that community to work with youth who have touched the criminal justice system, have gun violations, are at risk for gun violations, or other violent crimes," Reginelli said.
Reginelli said that trust is one of the most important things for SNUG to succeed is trust in the community.
"We want folks to know what the program is, to understand what the program is, and trust," Reginelli said. "I think trust is going to be the biggest piece of this program."
To learn more about the SNUG program visit https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/ops/gunviolencereduction/index.htm.