Dramatic Spike in Shootings & Violence Across NYS Demands Immediate Action

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay
July 10, 2020

The recent spike in shootings, violent crimes and homicides across New York state is cause for serious concern. Too many New Yorkers simply do not feel safe in their communities right now and without drastic, immediate action, the line between law and order will continue to blur. Earlier today, I joined members of the Minority Conference and dedicated law-and-order professionals to urge state leaders to reverse dangerous policies that have compromised public safety and undermined the ability of law enforcement agencies to do their jobs.

New York has unfortunately reached the moment that many warned of when calls for disastrous bail reforms first started. The pendulum has swung too far to the side of the criminals and away from innocent victims and safe communities.

This year’s statistics are staggering. In one week there were 101 shooting victims in New York City. A man in Syracuse was charged with attempted murder for shooting at another man and an 11-month-old child outside a store. In a matter of 72 hours, 13 people were shot and another was stabbed in Rochester. No region has been immune to the rise in violence. Year-to-date totals compared to 2019, as reported by respective agencies, further illustrate the grim reality:

  • In Albany, homicides have increased by 800 percent, shootings are up 379 percent;
  • In Buffalo, homicides have increased by 88 percent, shootings are up 54 percent;
  • In New York City, homicides have increased by 27 percent, shootings are up 63 percent;
  • In Rochester, shooting-related homicides have increased by 40 percent, shooting incidents are up 46 percent; and
  • In Syracuse, homicides have increased by 27 percent, while burglaries are up 31 percent.

For years, ill-conceived and poorly constructed legislation and policies have emboldened criminal behavior, scaled back penalties and undermined the authority of law enforcement agencies to provide public safety for the communities they serve. The Majority has advanced or supported dangerous initiatives, including:

  • raising the age of criminal responsibility;
  • allowing bail reform to establish a revolving door for career criminals;
  • stripping duly elected judges of their ability to exercise discretion;
  • defunding police budgets, which will result in fewer officers; and
  • requiring all police officers to carry personal liability insurance in the event of lawsuits.

We have to do better for our constituents and communities. These numbers are alarming, undeniable and warrant immediate action. The constant rollbacks of public safety standards must end. Movements to undermine the legal authority of police, judges and prosecutors only triggers a perfect storm for increased criminal activity. Crime is rising, and the solution will not be found by staying on the current path. It’s time to remember that the highest priority of elected officials is to protect the people we serve, and that our duty is to ensure their well-being.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069 and by email at barclaw@nyassembly.gov. You may also find me, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, on Facebook or on Twitter at @WillABarclay.