2009-11-13 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Operation SNUG To Stop Gun Violence And Save Lives
Commentary By State Senator Malcolm Smith

On October 2, Kevin Miller, a 13 year old from St. Albans, was murdered by a stray bullet when a gun fight broke out near the corner of Nashville and Linden Boulevard. Pedro Garcia, a 19- year old working at a nearby carwash was also shot thankfully, he survived. Kevin's tragic death showed us once again the terrible toll illegal guns take on our neighborhoods.

Thirty thousand people will likely die this year as a result of gun violence, and many of them will be young people. For too long, the deadly specter of illegal guns has gone unchecked. Now, we are taking deliberate steps to end the plague of gun violence and return our streets to their rightful owners, the people of New York.

The King of Kings Foundation, a non-profit organization in Queens, will receive $500,000 to combat gang activity and provide information regarding gang activity and awareness.

This is the first phase of funding for Operation SNUG, a statewide initiative to support local law enforcement and anti-violence community groups who steer at-risk New Yorkers away from the culture of gangs and illegal guns.

Operation SNUG was born out of child gun violence in our community last summer. Within a three-day span in May 2008, the Far Rockaway Pen - insula became a violent battleground with five men shot and two teenagers killed. Following these shoot ings, I held a summit with fellow elected officials including Senators Eric Adams, Bill Perkins, Congressman Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Darryl Towns, and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Acting on our initiative, the State Senate secured $4 million in funding for Operation SNUG to develop frontline anti-gun and gang violence prevention efforts that will benefit the hardest-hit communities.

Operation SNUG - "GUNS" spelled backwards - stands for:

S: Street intervention and stopping the violence: •violence interrupters and outreach to

high-risk youth; •support for and coordination with

police and law enforcement; •clearly communicating community

values against shootings and violence;

•engaging schools and educators as

part of the solution; N: National, state and local funding support: •funding for all alternatives; •legislation to help implement solutions;

• public and private support for intervention

and prevention as part of the

response U: Use of celebrities and community centers: •development of a comprehensive public

relations effort, including celebrity

PSAs and materials; •reopening and revitalization of community

centers, creation of new community

"safe haven" storefronts for

youth; G: Gangs, guns, gainful employment: •real-world gang awareness and prevention

initiatives; •new efforts to stop the spread of illegal

guns, including new law enforcement

efforts targeting "middlemen"

and gun-running; •connections to employment and economic

alternatives.

Neighborhoods that have been decimated by guns and gang violence will receive much-needed funding that will allow for better cooperation between police and prosecutors to keep our children safe and streets secure.

Through outreach, prevention and in tervention techniques, Operation SNUG will pay specific attention to ways in which we can keep young New Yorkers aged 14 to 25 out of gang life and away from illegal guns.

Operation SNUG is modeled after the highly successful Cease Fire Gun Violence Prevention Model currently used in Chicago. That program targets outreach and prevention efforts to "high risk" communities, and works through existing and experienced community based organizations.

We know what works. We know how to steer young people away from gang life and keep illegal guns off our streets. Operation SNUG is vital to community safety in the 21st century. It will provide the support that our local anti-violence programs need and will help us save lives.

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