Governor Hochul Announces Major Public Safety Initiatives and Investments to Drive Down Gun Violence and Violent Crime

Government and Politics

January 10, 2023

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Expands New York State Police Community Stabilization Units, Bolsters Trooper Participation in Federal Task Forces and Increases the Division's Ranks by Offering an Unprecedented Four Academy Classes for New Recruits

Doubles State Funding for Nationally Recognized Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative and More than Triples Aid to State’s 62 District Attorney’s Offices

Makes Record Investment in Alternatives to Incarceration and Re-Entry Programs that Reduce Recidivism and Proposes Clarifying Bail Laws to Better Protect New Yorkers

Strengthens the State's Response to Address the Flow of Fentanyl into Communities

Governor Kathy Hochul today, as part of the 2023 State of the State, announced major public safety initiatives and investments, expanding proven programs and services to further drive down gun violence and other violent crime, reduce recidivism, address the flow of deadly fentanyl and improve the efficacy of the court system, which was disrupted by the pandemic. The Governor is proposing a comprehensive plan to expand the number of New York State Police Community Stabilization Units, bolster trooper participation in federal task forces, and increase the ranks of the State Police by offering an unprecedented four academy classes. Governor Hochul is also proposing to double funding for the State’s nationally recognized Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, more than triple aid to prosecution grants to the State’s 62 district attorneys’ offices, and invest record funding in alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs to reduce recidivism, increase opportunity for individuals returning home after serving prison sentences, improve quality of life in neighborhoods and make communities safer.

“Public safety is my top priority,” Governor Hochul said. “I am committed to using every tool at my disposal to protect the people of this state, crack down on gun violence and violent crime, and invest in proven solutions that keep New Yorkers safe.”

“In New York, we are committed to driving down crime, building safer neighborhoods, and breaking the cycles of recidivism,” said Lieutenant Governor Delgado. “These direct investments into our communities will keep New Yorkers safe and keep our state moving forward.”

The Governor’s new investment will allow the New York State Police, Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to expand funding, programs and services that have been proven to make a difference. Governor Hochul also will work with the Legislature to clarify the State’s bail laws in order to restore confidence in our criminal justice system.

State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, “We are focused on working with our law enforcement partners to build on the success we’ve had in removing illegal guns from our communities and reducing gun violence statewide. Governor Hochul’s proposal ensures that we will have the additional resources necessary to fully accomplish this mission. We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and continued support of the State Police.”

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said , “Governor Hochul has advanced a comprehensive strategy to keep New Yorkers safe and help ensure our justice system for all. By expanding and enhancing programs that have proven effective in preventing gun violence, reducing recidivism and addressing community needs, the Governor is continuing to create a safer state. I thank Governor Hochul for her steadfast leadership and for her support of public safety strategies that work, including our GIVE initiative, Crime Analysis Center Network, alternatives to incarceration and detention, and critical funding for recent justice reforms, including discovery and pretrial procedures.”

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, “The Department is proud of the work being undertaken by our parole officers, investigators and other law enforcement partners who participate in the GIVE initiative that has resulted in the seizure of a significant number of illegal firearms, protecting fellow New Yorkers. I commend the Governor on her balanced multi-pronged approach to public safety with enhanced funding for GIVE, providing resources to support alternatives to incarceration, while also expanding the Department’s use of electronic monitoring and enhanced intensive supervision through the Supervision Against Violent Engagement (SAVE) initiative.”

New York State Police (NYSP)

Community Stabilization Units have been instrumental in the State Police’s multi-pronged approach to interdicting illegal firearms and provide understaffed local police agencies with resources to proactively address surges in crime and emerging issues. Troopers, including canine details, and investigators assigned to these units use a variety of tactics, such as targeted details, dedicated patrols, collaboration with business owners and community members, to address violence and quality of life in neighborhoods. The units also help to deter criminal activity by helping local communities increase physical police presence and interacting with the public to understand their concerns. Governor Hochul’s proposal will increase the number of these units from 16 to 25.

The State Police will expand its presence on federal task forces, reinforcing its commitment to collaborating with partners to take illegal guns off the streets and reduce violent crime. Participation in these task forces also provides greater access to information and intelligence, and federal task forces have the authority and resources to bridge the gap more seamlessly across state, county, and local boundaries. In addition, the Governor will work with prosecutors and police to ensure that DNA on all crime guns in New York State may be sent to the state’s DNA Databank and analyzed more quickly to further leverage the power of science to solve crimes.

Finally, the Governor will propose additional funding for an unprecedented four State Police academy classes to accelerate rebuilding of the force, which is significantly below full strength. This will allow the Division to devote more troopers to efforts focused on combatting serious crime.

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York achieved record reductions in gun violence through its multifaceted approach in proven programs and strategies, including GIVE, Community Stabilization Units, the SNUG Street Outreach program, interagency collaboration and cooperation, crime analysis, as well as data and information sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In 2019, New York State reported 304 firearm-related homicides, the second lowest number during the 10-year period from 2011 through 2020. Only 2017 had fewer: 296. The number of shooting incidents involving injury and the number of shooting victims reported by the 20 police departments that participate in the GIVE program also declined annually from 2016 through 2019, when both reached 10-year lows. Reported index crimes also declined annually for seven years, reaching all-time low in 2019. New York was the safest of the 10 largest states in the nation.

Gun violence surged across the country in 2020 and 2021, when New York and other states faced a pandemic that impacted every aspect of life and significantly disrupted the criminal justice and court systems, and experienced social unrest not seen in a generation. Last year, reported crime also increased across the nation and New York State. To address this erosion of public safety, Governor Hochul secured $227 million for public safety initiatives in 2022, and the State has seen progress as a result of that investment. More than 10,000 illegal guns have been taken off the streets and preliminary data show that shootings were down 16 percent in the communities that participate in GIVE, and murders decreased 10 percent across the state. Compared to the pre-pandemic period from 2017 through 2019, violent crime in New York City increased 32 percent, while communities outside of the five boroughs experienced a modest 4 percent increase in violent crime.

Funding for GIVE will double to $36 million, which will expand the use of evidence-based strategies – hot-spot policing, focused deterrence, crime prevention through environmental design, and street outreach – and result in the hiring of more than 150 police officers and prosecutors solely dedicated to combating gun violence within their communities. This initiative supports 20 police departments in 17 counties that account for more than 80 percent of the violent crime that occurs in New York State outside of New York City: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester. District attorneys' offices, probation departments, sheriffs' offices and other partners in those counties also receive funding through the initiative.

Aid to Prosecution funding will more than triple to $40 million, which will be used to hire additional prosecutors in the State’s 62 district attorneys’ offices. The State also will sustain $40 million in discovery funding for the 57 counties outside of New York City with their implementation of discovery law and changes to the State’s bail laws, both of which took effect January 1, 2020. To date, the State has allocated $80 million to counties, which have used the funding for training, personnel, overtime, administrative support, equipment, software and data connectivity. Counties were required to submit plans to DCJS that prioritized requests for district attorneys’ offices, local police departments, and sheriffs’ offices, but funding also could support pretrial services and increased case supervision resulting from bail reform, nonprofit organizations, and forensic laboratories.

DCJS also will extend its Crime Analysis Center Network, a national model and the backbone of State and local efforts to deter, investigate, and solve crimes, to New York City. This new center would join 10 others located in Albany, Broome, Erie, Franklin Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Suffolk counties that serve more than 350 law enforcement agencies across nearly 43 counties and handle more than 60,000 requests each year.

Supported by DCJS in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, centers have helped local authorities solve murders, shootings, robberies, hate crimes, and serial burglaries, as well as crimes committed by national and regional organized criminal groups. The New York City center will develop and foster crime analysis and intelligence partnerships with partners in the five boroughs, including the New York City Police Department, to ensure statewide data and information sharing. The new center also will integrate with the existing regional crime analysis capability located within the New York-New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is focused on disrupting the illegal narcotics trade and cycle of gun violence.

Governor Hochul also will propose additional funding to combat the flow of fentanyl into the State. Additional crime analysts focused on fentanyl distribution and related deaths will be deployed to HIDTA, and the State will establish an Anti-Fentanyl Innovation Grant for prosecutors, allowing them to target supply chains and prosecute cases involving overdose deaths, among other proposals.

In addition, funding will triple for 20 county re-entry task forces that provide dedicated case management, care coordination, and stabilization services, in partnership with local government agencies and community-based organizations. DCJS will administer $12 million, which will allow these task forces to serve 7,500 people annually, an increase of 5,000 individuals. In addition to helping meet behavioral, health, employment, and educational needs, this investment will also expand stabilization services for individuals facing crisis, offset the costs of initial housing and transportation, provide stipends and incentives for workforce training and employment and support community-based partners who provide critical services to individuals returning to their communities.

Alternatives to incarceration programs connect people with treatment and services, reduce the use of incarceration, save taxpayer money and improve public safety by reducing recidivism. Doubling funding to $30 million for these programs will ensure increased access and availability of these programs, which have proven effective and provide a significant return on investment: $4 for every $1 spent. New York will scale these services, create a best-in-the-nation network of community-based programs, and reduce rearrests of individuals awaiting trial.

At the same time, the State will sustain its investment in pretrial services funding for all counties outside of New York City. This funding will support a continuum of pretrial services, including screening and assessments, supervision, a centralized case management system, and dedicated information sharing with the court system. Probation departments and community-based providers will receive this critical funding to expand and enhance services that enhance public safety and return more people to court.

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will expand the Supervision Against Violent Engagement (SAVE) pilot program from Rochester to Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse. Individuals on parole who are identified at the highest level of risk to reoffend will be placed on electronic monitoring and intensive supervision.

DOCCS also will receive additional funding to provide a full-time, senior parole officer to serve as a data coordinator for each of the GIVE jurisdictions to facilitate intelligence gathering and sharing at the local level; and embed a full-time, senior investigator within the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at DOCCS in each of the State Police’s gun violence task force jurisdictions to attend and gather cross-jurisdictional information.

Stabilize Fire Service Statewide to Improve Emergency Response

Volunteer fire departments serve approximately 9 million New Yorkers, which is nearly half of the State’s population. In recent years, however, more than three-quarters of these departments have reported a decrease in the number of individuals willing to volunteer and serve. At the same time, calls for service have increased 29 percent from 1997 to 2020. These two factors have resulted in a significant increase in calls for mutual aid, in which a department responding to the call must seek assistance from a neighboring department to help. In New York State, mutual aid calls increased 151 percent between 2000 and 2020, compared to the national increase of only 61 percent. This has caused significant strain on resources and personnel from both volunteer and career fire departments. To boost recruitment and retention, Governor Hochul will propose legislation to allow communities to pay modest compensation to eligible volunteer firefighters, and also create a State fund to cover some of the costs associated with core firefighter training. The fund also will offset some of the wages that volunteers lose when they miss work because they are being trained to serve their communities.