State declares gun violence a public health crisis

Cuomo issues first-in-the-nation executive order


Following a bloody Fourth of July weekend in which police reported 26 victims in 21 shootings across the state, including in Roosevelt where one man was killed and two people were hospitalized, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a first-in-the-nation executive order declaring gun violence a disaster emergency on July 6, which allows the state to expedite resources to communities.

“We're building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID,” Cuomo stated. “If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID.”

This executive order outlines various initiatives, including requiring the Division of Criminal Justice Services to gather and share gun violence data from local police departments, creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to address hotspots and investing $138.7 million in intervention, prevention, and jobs programs for at-risk youth.

Earlier this month, Nassau County Police Department announced that while major crime was down across the board, gunshot incident numbers countywide are up. In 2020 with most people staying indoors due to the pandemic, there were 68 shots fired. However, this year so far there had been 95 shots fired, a 39 percent increase.

As with COVID, the state used a cluster-based strategy to identify gun violence hotspots where clusters of shootings are driven by small numbers of people. Initial hot spots identified in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Long Island included just 4,090 young men aged 18-24 who account for 48.5 percent of recent gun violence. 

On Nassau County, the state already identified Hempstead and Uniondale as hotspots. Baldwin didn’t make the cut as fewer than two dozen incidents involving guns have been reported since 2015, according to the NCPD CivicAlerts. Only two incidents have been reported in the past two years.

The latest incident took place on March 31, 2021, in which First Precinct Officers responded to a shots fired 911 call at the intersection of Edna Court and Haig Street. An investigation determined that there were three gunshot victims, all males between 17 and 21 years of age. All victims were transported to the hospital, and the investigation is ongoing.

From 2009 to 2019, NCPD has reported a reduction of 36.5 percent in firearm-related violent crimes, as well as a decrease of 27.5 percent in shooting incidents involving injury and of 14.3 percent of shooting victims from 2014 to 2019.

The NCPD assembled a gun-suppression team last year, taking 40 guns off the street. In 2021, the team has surpassed that number.  Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder stated during the July 1 press conference that the department had been working with federal partners on the issue of guns arriving in the county from areas down South, which he said was due to Covid-19.

“Now that everybody’s coming out, the gang guys see an opportunity to both sell their drugs and to take advantage of parties and territories that get involved,” Ryder said. “That’s where we see our shootings going up.”