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Syracuse Police Department awarded funds to curb gun violence

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The Syracuse Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office and the county’s probation department will share $1,162,017 in funding

The Syracuse Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies were awarded state funding on Tuesday to help reduce gun violence in the area.

SPD, the District Attorney’s office, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office and the county’s probation department will share $1,162,017 in funding, according to a press release from New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The funding awarded Tuesday is part of the state’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, a program aimed at curbing violent crime in areas of the state outside of New York City.

The funding — administered by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services — is used to provide technical assistance, training, equipment and personnel such as crime prosecutors and analysts to law enforcement agencies.

“This administration continues to work tirelessly to combat gun violence in our communities and help prevent the needless tragedy that comes with it,” Cuomo said in the press release.

In total, the state awarded about $13 million to different law enforcement agencies in the initiative’s latest round of funding Tuesday. Onondaga County was the only county in central New York to receive money.

The year of 2016 was the deadliest year in Syracuse’s history, with 31 homicides in the city.

“We’re talking about murders, people are dying,” said SPD Chief Frank Fowler at a press conference on police-community relations last year. “We’re talking about shots fired where people are being injured and they’re ending up in the hospital. And we’re talking about bullets flying in our neighborhoods and making our neighborhoods unsafe.”

In the first four months of 2017, there has only been one homicide in Syracuse. The Common Council in March approved the installation of a gunshot detection sensor to aid police in responding to shootings in the city. The city has also established a task force dedicated to investigating homicides.

There were 1,142 violent crimes — such as murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assault incidents — reported to SPD in 2015, according to data from the New York state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The total number of violent crimes reported to the SPD in 2015 was lower than the total number of violent crimes reported in 2014, 2013 2012 and 2011. The number of burglary incidents also decreased from 2011-15.

The number of murders rose from 11 in 2011 to 22 in 2015, though.

“It’s really challenging for me to be able to talk about the fact that the burglaries are down, the fact that larcenies are down,” Fowler said during the press conference. “It’s challenging for me because when I do, the counter to that is, ‘Well, chief, what about the shots? What about the murders?’”

During her State of the City address earlier this year, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced the establishment of a Homicide Task Force to help investigate murders in the city. The task force is a unit within the SPD’s Criminal Investigations Division.

“We know we must renew our efforts to reduce murders in Syracuse,” Miner said at the time.

The GIVE initiative provides funding for 20 police departments in the 17 counties that report 83 percent of the violent crimes committed in the state outside of New York City, per the release from Cuomo’s office.

Aside from Onondaga County, other counties that received funding on Tuesday for law enforcement agencies included Erie County in Western New York and Broome County in the Southern Tier.

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