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Walsh: Syracuse Safer Streets initiative to begin in February

Daniel Lobo/flickr

There were more than a dozen homicides in the city of Syracuse last year. A soon-to-be-implemented initiative aims to drive down violence in the city.

Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok said it takes everyone to really address gun violence.

"It takes the city administration, the city council, all the community leaders, all the community resident to really start everyone start to take their individual responsibility," Majok said. "When you speak of young people, it's important for us to start looking after young people. And it start with the very guardian that is responsible for that young person, and then the community will wrap their hands around them. The government will come around."

The Syracuse Common Council approved the $1 million Safer Streets Initiative in August 2023. The program will first serve 50 individuals aged 18 to 24 and use credible messengers to build trust and engage in conflict mediation.

The initial proposal of paying participants $100 a week to stay out of trouble was dropped. Instead, participants will be paid for their involvement in a workforce development program.

Nonprofit organizations OGs Against Violence, Salvation Army, Northside Learning Center, Project Heal and Neighborhood Peace Ambassadors also received funding to assist with mentoring, conflict mediation and therapy for participants.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced in his State of the City address that the Safer Streets program will begin in February.

"It is based on a model that has been proven to reduce gun violence in other cities," Walsh said. "The office is contracting with community partners who will work directly with our highest-risk young people who are ready to escape gun violence. Instead of wringing our hands over the crisis of gun violence, Safer Streets is an example of how we must take the initiative to protect our youth."

The mayor noted violent crime and incidents of shootings with injuries or deaths were down last year but property crime, largely driven by the increase in stolen vehicles, went up.

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.