Law enforcement from the local, state and federal level will work with New York and neighboring states to stem the tide of what's known as the iron pipeline: a wave of illegal guns that enter New York state.
Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to crack down on the flow of illegal guns into New York. But pressure is also mounting for state officials to address New York's bail laws.
It's a potentially complicated effort in a broader, and more fraught, issue surrounding public safety. Her political opponents this year on both sides of the political divide are raising the public safety and bail issue as well.
But her efforts to combat illegal firearms — long a source of concern in a state with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country — has been popular with Democratic lawmakers who also face an election season this year.
"We have to make sure we're working together," Hochul said on Wednesday as the multi-state task force met at a State Police facility. "This not a New York phenomenon. This is a national phenomenon."
The effort is being launched days after two NYPD officers were fatally shot -- and after months of increased violent crime. Hochul during a visit to a State Police intelligence gathering facility on Wednesday pointed to the effects of the pandemic for the rise in crime.
"People lost their jobs. They lost their safety net," she said. "They lost their support systems where they couldn't get substance abuse treatment or mental health treatment. People fell through the cracks."
Hochul plans to make the findings available to the public to better understand what's happening with violent crime and shootings.
But Hochul is facing pressure to make changes to recently approved laws that ended cash bail for many felony and misdemeanor charges. Hochul supports the intent of reducing the number of people in local jails.
"I stand behind that fundamental premise," she said of the measure. "And I've also said if reforms are needed based on data that is still being gathered, I'm willing to have those conversations."
Republican lawmakers like Assemblyman Christopher Tague say judges must have the power to remand a person to jail if they are considered a danger to the public.
"In some cases there's a history with certain individuals, and I think judges need to have that discretion to say, ‘you know what, we need to have a time out or a cool down,’" Tague said.
But the issue has also resonated with Democratic-elected officials.
Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is challenging Hochul for the Democratic nomination this year, has backed rolling back the laws, siding with New York City Mayor Eric Adams' calls to do so.
“Today after months of silence Governor Hochul finally told us where she stands on bail reform," Suozzi said. "By refusing to add a dangerousness standard and to give judges more discretion, Hochul is standing against common sense, and rejecting what I have been saying and what Mayor Adams, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, and every day New Yorkers are calling for. She is out of touch with the needs of our state.”
Still, Democrats like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are supportive of efforts to tackle illegal guns. But a trip to Rikers Island jail reinforced his concerns about putting more people in crowded jail conditions.
"A lot of those guys have an addiction problem or they need mental health services," Heastie said. "We need to get out of this idea that a lot of these problems can be solved with Rikers Island or jail."