State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo came to Buffalo on Tuesday to offer the city some help in the fight against gangster violence.
Cuomo announced that he has assigned three of his Buffalo office prosecutors to work under Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark on homicide cases.
"Last year, Buffalo experienced an unexpected spike in homicides, partly due to gang activity," Cuomo said during a news conference in his agency's Statler Towers office. "Guns, drugs and gangs -- that constellation of issues is what we have to attack."
Cuomo said he has assigned three veteran lawyers -- Patricia Carrington, Russell Ippolito and Cydney Kelly -- to work with Clark's staff on prosecuting a backlog of homicide cases. The three will be "cross-designated" as assistant Erie County district attorneys.
The prosecutors will work with Clark's office as long as it takes to deal with the backlog, said Cuomo, who had vowed to help Buffalo attack its crime problems after his election last November.
"Why can't the state, the county and the city work together to solve a problem? That's what we're supposed to be doing," Cuomo said.
Buffalo recorded 73 homicides last year, a 30 percent increase from 2005. Although last year's total was well below the city's record for homicides -- 92 in 1994 -- the spike in violent crimes worries city leaders.
Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipsonthanked Cuomo for the help.
Clark was not at the briefing, but he issued a statement saying, "I greatly appreciate the attorney general's assistance to us in reducing our backlog of cases, some of which are cold and others which are six months to three years old."
"It comes at a particularly opportune time for us since other pressing matters are now taxing our resources to the maximum," Clark said.