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Erie County gets $1.7 million grant to fight gun violence

With a backdrop of 13 shootings in nine days, Erie County is getting a helping hand from the state.

Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. announced a $1.7 million state grant to fight gun violence during a news conference Thursday at the Delevan Grider Community Center on East Delevan Avenue.

The announcement comes after a rash of shootings in Buffalo left one person dead and 15 others injured. In one of those incidents, an 11-year-old was shot in the head on Humason Avenue.

Flaherty said the money will be used to hire four prosecutors, an investigator and an assistant crime analyst in his office, and will help fund overtime for police officers involved in undercover operations, strategic police details and intelligence raids.

“Their sole mission will be to prosecute gun and gun violence cases,” Flaherty said Thursday.

The money will also fund other staff positions, including a gun crime analyst in the Buffalo Police Department, two Erie County probation officers, two Erie County Sheriff’s deputies and a firearms examiner in Erie County Central Police Services.

Flaherty said the grant will also finance a University at Buffalo research study into gun violence and social media, and will allow his office to work even closer with community groups on the front lines of gun violence.

“We need to build bridges, so a big part of this effort will be community outreach,” he said.

The grant, according to Flaherty, will allow his office to focus on specific strategies such as hot-spot policing, a practice that relies on data to help law enforcement identify areas where crime is likely, and focused deterrence, a strategy of identifying chronic offenders and targeting them for more aggressive enforcement and prosecution.

Joining Flaherty, who is running for election, were Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and several other city leaders.