NEWBURGH GRANT FOR $200,000 WILL TACKLE VIOLENCE BEFORE IT HAPPENS
By Edie Johnson
Senator James Skoufis, Mayor Torrence Harvey, Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, City Councilman Anthony Grice, and Chief of Police Doug Solomon met with the Director of Newburgh’s RECAP Charles Quinn and the visiting Director of the SNUG program in Poughkeepsie Doug Hairston, Omari Shakur, and several residents who want to work for the program and ensure its success. They gathered in front of the RECAP office on Broadway to announce the successful return of an anti-violence grant called “SNUG”. In case you don’t notice, SNUG spells GUNS backwards. Mayor Harvey already has a rapport with some of the 20-somethings in the City who gave a friendly “shout-out” to him as they drove by on Broadway. Skoufis assured that now that the annual grant is back, it will likely stay.The program had been used several years ago, but lost its funding. Skoufis said they were able to get the funding back largely because of RECAP’s excellent record of success with its existing programs. He added “The most basic quality of life issue is safety.” He listed about half a dozen cities in the region whose violence had dropped dramatically as a result of the program which seeks to address community issues at a level before it becomes violence. Holding barbecues, developing rapport within the city’s communities and ethnic groups, noticing where individuals and groups have issues that can be addressed before violence occurs has worked here in the past and shown its advantages elsewhere. Decreases in violent incidents went down 29% in Albany after 8 months of the program, 40% in Rockland after 6 months and 20% in Crown Heights. The program began in Chicago where there was a 67% decrease, documenting that it is an “Evidence Based” program
Mayor Harvey called the program “A big win, a New Day for Newburgh”.
Chief Solomon said “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. This program provides another piece of the puzzle to continue our current decrease in violence and make the City a safer place.” He added “When we are out with the people, there is no bulletproof vest, no pepper spray, and no police backup. Our word is our honor.”.
Mayor Harvey, Legislator Lujan and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson all spoke of the “Perception Problem”. ” Too often”, Jacobson said “people hear of some bad thing that happens in the City, and don’t hear about the many good things that are happening”. They pointed out that one act of violence can wipe out the good news for 6 months, in people’s perception.
Mayor Harvey and Doug Hairston also pointed out that when there is violence it is connected between Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and other local towns.
They agreed “If the City of Newburgh is safer, then surrounding towns are safer!
And if Newburgh is Rising, Orange County is Rising!”
Senator Skoufis vowed that this is one step for Newburgh, which has been too much short-changed by the state in the past, and that there will be many more steps forward in the coming months.
(Photos by Edie Johnson)