(WBNG Binghamton) New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced that the State has awarded $13.1 million in grants under Operation IMPACT to 17 counties Upstate and on Long Island to aid their efforts to fight gun violence and other violent crimes and domestic violence.
According to a news release from Cuomo's office:
The counties given grants today account for 80 percent of reported crime in New York State outside of the five boroughs of New York City. This funding allows counties and municipalities to enhance police patrols and increase investigations to target high crimes areas.
“Keeping New Yorkers and communities across our state safe is one of our fundamental responsibilities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Operation IMPACT is a critical program in our efforts to prevent gun violence and reduce violent crimes for localities in upstate New York and Long Island. With these grants, local law enforcement can develop unique programs and targeted strategies for combatting criminals and gangs, an approach that has shown real results in communities statewide.”
Operation IMPACT has proven to deliver results. The primary police departments in the 17 IMPACT counties reported that index crime was down 9 percent for the first four months of 2013, as compared to the same timeframe last year. Seven index crimes – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft – are used by the state and FBI to monitor overall crime trends and give law enforcement a tool to gauge its effectiveness and drive decision-making about staffing and day-to-day agency operations.
Last year, the total number of index crimes reported by those 17 police departments was 106,933 – almost 3,000 less than the 2011 total of 109,644, which had been the lowest total reported in 10 years. The percentage of firearm-related violent crime – murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – was down slightly in 2012, to 22.9 percent, but below the peak of 26.2 percent reported in 2006.
IMPACT provides funding for various programs in localities to enhance public safety efforts. For example, IMPACT funds the “blue-grey patrols” program in the city of Albany, a partnership between the police department and New York State Police that teams officers to increase the police presence in high-crime areas and enhance officer safety. Similar joint patrol operations are conducted in other IMPACT jurisdictions in partnership with the State Police.
In Rochester, the police department has been able to revolutionize investigations into stolen property and metal theft through technology-driven intelligence. Using LeadsOnline, an electronic reporting system, officers can quickly identify stolen property that has been sold to pawn or second-hand stores, easily identify patterns of suspicious transactions and/or sellers, and identify individuals who may be using eBay to transact stolen property. Since the system went live last fall, LeadsOnline has allowed officers to identify more than 30 instances where stolen property was reported to police and subsequently sold to a pawn or second-hand dealer. Several investigations are currently underway involving organized rings of metal thieves selling stolen metal to an array of scrap yards.
Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard said, “These rings are operating in the city of Rochester and across Monroe County, and the rings would not have been identified had it not been for the LeadsOnline service. The funding provided through Operation IMPACT is, without a doubt, the single most important source of funding for the Rochester Police Department with regard to implementation of our crime reduction objectives. Through an analysis-led annual process, crime problems are prioritized and strategies to address them are developed.”
This is the 10th round of Operation IMPACT grants, which are administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The funding cycle runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, which gives jurisdictions additional resources during the summer months, when crime historically spikes.
Michael C. Green, executive deputy commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), said, “Operation IMPACT is successful because agencies collaborate, pooling their resources and experience, to take a comprehensive look at crime and use intelligence-driven policing, accurate and timely data and technology to make their communities safer.”
Examples of other initiatives funded through IMPACT include:
In the city of Albany, an investigation into the activities of a violent gang resulted in the indictment of more than 30 individuals and the removal of 23 firearms, two pounds of marijuana and more than a pound of heroin and cocaine from the city’s streets.
The city of Poughkeepsie targeted a spike in robberies, residential burglaries, vehicle break-ins and shoplifting by identifying businesses that bought and disposed of stolen property; 11 individuals were arrested for receiving or selling stolen goods.
Working in concert with other IMPACT partners in Monroe County, the Probation Department recovered 70 firearms last year.
A collaborative effort among local, county, state and federal law enforcement partners in Buffalo targeted violent gangs, which resulted in the arrest or indictment of more than 30 alleged gang members and their associates on charges ranging from murder and drug trafficking to weapons’ possession.
Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff said, “Operation IMPACT has been instrumental in providing the necessary resources for the Albany Police Department to work collaboratively with members of our community and partners in law enforcement to reduce crime and enhance the quality of life in the city. In just this past year, the Albany Police Department utilized IMPACT resources and partnered with the New York State Attorney General’s Office to investigate a violent gang operating in the city. The investigation resulted in a 226-count indictment of 31 dangerous individuals and the removal of firearms and significant quantities of heroin and cocaine from our streets. Operation IMPACT provides additional resources, allowing the Albany Police Department to keep its focus on our most dangerous and prolific offenders.”
Poughkeepsie Police Chief Ronald Knapp said, “We continue to benefit from this critical funding during difficult times. As a result of our targeting of stores that purchased stolen property, not only did we arrest individuals for those crimes, but several also were involved in the sale of untaxed cigarettes and not collecting state sales tax. It was obvious that these individuals participated in numerous schemes against our local community and New York State.”
Buffalo Police Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said, “As we are about to enter the tenth year of Operation IMPACT funding, we are once again grateful for the monetary assistance provided by New York State. The efforts to combat crime by local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies continue to improve the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Buffalo and western New York. The overall crime picture is discussed and strategies developed at the monthly IMPACT meetings, held at Buffalo Police Headquarters. Additional funding for programs to fight crime and improve communities is always welcome, and the City of Buffalo is once again happy to participate in Operation IMPACT in the coming fiscal year.”
Operation IMPACT consists of a partnership among the primary police department and the district attorney’s office, sheriff’s office and probation department in each county, as well as state and federal agencies, including New York State Police, the United States Marshals, United States Attorneys’ offices, Parole, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.
The 2013-14 IMPACT grants are as follows:
Albany Police Department/Albany County: $863,200
Binghamton Police Department/Broome County: $381,700
Jamestown Police Department/Chautauqua County: $236,600
City of Poughkeepsie Police Department/Dutchess County: $340,375
Buffalo Police Department/Erie County: $1,467,600
Rochester Police Department/Monroe County: $1,722,980
Nassau County Police Department/Nassau County: $1,078,651
Niagara Falls Police Department/Niagara County: $601,900
Utica Police Department/Oneida County: $430,200
Syracuse Police Department/Onondaga County: $1,093,300
City of Newburgh Police Department/Orange County: $647,450
Troy Police Department/Rensselaer County: $488,900
Village of Spring Valley Police Department/Rockland County: $200,800
City of Schenectady Police Department/Schenectady County: $721,900
Suffolk County Police Department/Suffolk County: $1,185,880
City of Kingston Police Department/Ulster County: $249,200
Yonkers Police Department/Westchester County: $1,405,750
Three counties also have a secondary police department involved in the initiative, which also receives funding: Hempstead Police in Nassau County, Middletown Police in Orange County and Mount Vernon Police in Westchester County.
IMPACT grants are awarded competitively, with priority given to those jurisdictions with the highest volume of crime: Eight counties received an increase in funding over last year’s awards: Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Nassau, Rensselaer, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester. The total amount available for the program this year was about 1 percent higher than last year’s total of slightly more than $12.9 million.