BUFFALO, N.Y. — Whether it be New York City, Buffalo or Rochester, current Long Island Congressman and candidate for governor Tom Suozzi points to numbers over the last two years he says illustrate a troubling trend: There are upticks in homicides and other violent crime all over the state.
"I think we've got a really serious problem in our state," Suozzi said. "I don't think it's been talked about enough and I'm going to be talking about it a lot more throughout this campaign."
The candidate on Tuesday laid out his four-point plan to address crime in New York. He said it focuses on both prevention and intervention.
"It's hard to even focus on this in the midst of all the other stuff going on with COVID right now, but unfortunately when you're the chief executive, you've got to focus on a lot of different moving pieces and people are very concerned about crime," Suozzi said.
He said the state can eliminate cash bail altogether while giving judges discretion to remand or release people accused of a crime based on both flight risk and threat to public safety.
"You can have justice but you have to have public safety as well," Suozzi said. "You need both of those things. It's not an either or. It's a false choice to have to choose between those two different things."
Second, he said police departments need additional resources and technology to combat gun violence. Suozzi said the state can provide grants and larger municipalities can help smaller ones.
"We should be cross-pollinating best practices from the city of New York to Buffalo and Rochester and Albany and Syracuse. Long Island should be trying to help Erie County or Nassau and Suffolk should be helping Erie County and Monroe County. We should be sharing ideas with each other," he said.
Third, the congressman said police departments need to better collaborate with clergy and groups like SNUG to build community policing.
"We need to make it so the cops are trusted by the community so the community wants to give police information and the police know who to ask," Suozzi said.
Finally, the candidate said schools, social services and police need to work collaboratively rather as three separate entities, in order to identify when children are having trouble before they turn to crime.
"It's a whole change in the culture that we have in trying to deal with these emergencies when it's too late instead of focusing on prevention," he said. "Everybody's talked about it. I believe I can get it done."
Suozzi said he has seen all these strategies work successfully in Nassau County, where he previously served as county executive.