The Newburgh City Council voted to authorize City Manager Joe Donat to apply for the Gun Involved Violence Elimination [GIVE] grant from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services [NYSDJ] at Monday’s city council meeting.
This application is for the seventh round of GIVE funding. If rewarded, this grant of $425,000 will enhance law enforcement in the City of Newburgh for the purpose of achieving sustained, long-term crime reduction. The grant will be for the time period of July 1, 2020 to June 30,2021.
“The sole purpose of this grant is to reduce violence, namely street-level violence,” said Donat. He explained it’s a nationwide approach and the grant is in collaboration with SNUG and other gun violence reduction programs.
The City of Newburgh Police Department will be meeting with the SNUG team on February 11. Newburgh’s SNUG will be active in April.
“The philosophy [for the grant] is based on group violence based intervention,” said Police Chief Doug Solomon. “The National Network for Safe Communities out of John Jay Community College, founded by David Kennedy, has formulated this philosophy that the most violent individuals, the most violent groups perpetuate the majority of the crimes in a community such as this.”
Solomon said that members of the National Network for Safe Communities will come to the department at the end of the month to conduct a day long training on group violence intervention.
“GIVE not only reduces violence throughout the city,” said Donat, “it also boosts our community relations.” Funding will also go towards community programming.
Donat announced the year end results for the police department at Monday’s meeting. Last year, the police department had 32,000 calls for service. Most of which were traffic complaints and other officer-initiated activity.
One particular shining moment was when officers responded to a 13-year-old girl and a suicide attempt. “Thankfully the police officers were able to avoid this tragedy from taking place,” said Donat. “Police report that the person they helped is now seeking help themselves. Things are going well.”
Officers have also recovered three loaded weapons in the last thirty days.
“Over the last thirty days, there are three less weapons in the city,” said Donat. “Those efforts go above and beyond.”
It was also announced that ShotSpotter’s current funding will last till May of 2020. The service is a subscription service that is not covered under traditional grant funding.
“ShotSpotter has definitely been a critical piece to the puzzle as far as getting the gun violence under control,” said Solomon. “We end up responding to, more often or not, incidents of gun fire where we haven’t received any calls from the community.”
Solomon explained finding alternative funding for ShotSpotter has been difficult but pertinent.
“Something else that has challenged us is the criminal justice reform,” said Solomon. “Most notably the discovery laws.” Discovery laws are when the district attorney is required to turn over pertinent evidence, documents, and information within 50 days of an arrest.
“Drug investigations, major gun investigations, we’ve had to change our tactics,” said Solomon. “Some of these investigations are going to be taking more time. So that when we do ultimately bring an enforcement action down, we’re able to comply with the discovery rules set in place by the new criminal justice forum.”
Solomon also mentioned that another challenge is working with a smaller staff post-layoffs. “We’re kind of reworking our tactics,”said Solomon.
“The GIVE seven funding will put in place overtime for emerging hotspots, foot patrols in our three long term shooting and gun violence areas, enforcement actions, continuation of the YPI [Youth Police Initiative] program, and also some overtime set aside for investigations as well.”