Chico Tillmon, a community violence intervention expert, speaks after 30 community leaders hashed out how to work together to reduce gun violence. Credit: Chris Libonati

Syracuse is set to receive a $1.48 million grant from the United States Department of Justice for violence intervention, according to a news release from city officials.

The city was among 53 communities and organizations to receive money from the DOJ. In all, the DOJ awarded those groups $100 million for violence intervention.

Syracuse experienced the most gun homicides in its history in 2020 and 2021. Twenty-five people were shot to death in each of those years. Through August 2022, the number of shootings in Syracuse increased 37% from the year-to-date totals from 2021.

The money will fund community mobilization, social intervention, opportunity provision, organizational change and violence suppression, according to the news release.

City officials included a number of initiatives in its application, according to the release. They include:

  • Street-level intervention by credible messengers
  • Assessment and case management creation
  • Educational support
  • Job training
  • Workforce support
  • Crime reduction initiatives

“This grant will help expand the infrastructure needed to enhance community safety and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Mayor Ben Walsh said in a statement.

City officials secured approval from the Syracuse Common Council to apply for the grant earlier this year.

The city has set aside significant resources for violence prevention in 2022. Mayor Ben Walsh created the Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence and appointed Lateef Johnson-Kinsey to be the director. The city hired a consultant with federal stimulus money to assess the city’s violence prevention efforts.

The city committed about $1 million in federal stimulus money toward violence intervention earlier this year.

The following groups will be involved in implementing the grant:

  • The Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence
  • The City-County Coalition to Reduce Gun Violence
  • Syracuse police
  • The Syracuse City School District
  • Street Addiction Institute
  • Mothers Against Gun Violence
  • The Good Life Foundation

Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens said at the time the city applied the grant that they’d use it to put more people on the ground for intervention.

“Working together, we can assist and uplift our youth so that they have the resources and network available to reduce their risk of gang affiliation and crime,” Johnson-Kinsey said.

Chris Libonati

Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.