A new agency that was announced three months ago in order to direct resources to areas seeing a spike in shootings is still not set up.
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a first-in-the-nation state of emergency around gun violence at the beginning of July, after a surge in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend.
The former governor directed the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to collect data on gun violence from police agencies weekly, instead of monthly and report this information to a new agency within the Health Department, called the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will then use this data to identify “hot spots” and direct resources quickly to areas seeing a rise in shootings.
However, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention does not exist yet, and there is no record of the new agency on the Department of Health’s website.
A communications director within Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration, speaking on background, says that the launch of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention is in its initial stages and more information will be provided “as we evaluate the next steps.”
Almost $159 million was set aside to address root causes for gun violence around the state, provide summer jobs to youth in gun violence hotspots and support outreach programs.
Less than one-third of this money, nearly $47 million, has been distributed so far over the last three months, which was first reported by the Albany Times Union.
It is unclear when the rest of this funding is expected to be distributed, including around $3 million for the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The Hochul administration, though, is not sharing the weekly data it says is still being collected from police agencies on gun violence rates. The administration also declined to identify where the hot spots are around the state and what, if any, resources have been deployed.
Hochul’s office said on background that sharing this data could impede investigations.
“While the reported data does not include names, it is incident-specific and therefore, because many of the incidents are still under investigation, the information is not being made public,” an official said.
Hochul extended the gun violence state of emergency until October 23.