BROOKLYN, N.Y. — After declaring gun violence a state disaster emergency last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 4,000 summer jobs and full-time jobs with training for at-risk youth in New York City on Wednesday.
The governor met with community groups at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn to discuss the new program and other gun violence mitigation measures. He held a news conference after the meeting. Watch the news conference in the video player below.
Cuomo said reaching at-risk youth, “before they enter the pipeline of the system,” is one of the state’s most important strategies to curbing gun violence.
“Once that first arrest, that first record happens, then you are the slippery slope,” he said.
Community groups, Cuomo said, know who is getting into trouble and can “stop the cycle before it even starts.”
To do that, those community groups need tools and resources to do their jobs.
“I believe the product of today is that we save young lives,” Cuomo said.
New York City mayoral candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined Cuomo for part of the announcement earlier Wednesday. The governor vowed to work closely with Adams if he’s elected in November.
“Eric Adams and I will work very well together,” Cuomo said, adding that they both come from the “same political philosophy” as progressive Democrats.
Republican candidate for mayor, Curtis Sliwa, held his own news briefing on gun violence Wednesday afternoon.
He criticized Cuomo and Adams for failing to commend law enforcement, or include cops in their Wednesday-announced plan to combat gun violence.
Sliwa said he would have used the money Cuomo is earmarking for the jobs program to hire more police officers, and called the news conference a PR event to repackage plans that didn’t work in the 1990s and promote Adams as the anointed mayor, though he’s yet to win the general election.
The summer jobs initiative is part of Cuomo’s multi-pronged plan to combat a spike in gun violence across the state, including in New York City.
The governor said the jobs initiative will target hotspots in New York City where the majority of shootings have taken place. The state will partner with community groups to reach out to at-risk youth in those communities, Cuomo said.
There are three parts to the initiative, according to the governor. The first part includes employment opportunities — temporary summer jobs and full-time permanent employment with training in various fields — for 15- to 24-year-olds. The second piece is resources for community-based services and the third is support for violence interrupters and outreach programs.
Adams described Cuomo’s plan as a “compliment” to President Joe Biden’s federal anti-gun violence initiatives. The mayoral candidate met with Biden last week to discuss gun violence.
There have been at least 811 shooting incidents with at least 945 victims so far this year in New York City alone, compared to 650 shootings at the same time last year with 796 victims, according to the NYPD.
A police spokesperson said the number of suspects and victims under the age of 18 is also higher this year compared to 2020.
As of July 11, 79 shooting victims were under 18, compared to 50 in the same time period last year. Meanwhile, at least 43 shooting suspects were under 18, compared to 28 in the same time period last year, according to NYPD data.
In late June, the Justice Department announced plans to launch a task force to New York City to help combat the uptick in shootings.
This story comprises reporting from PIX11’s Kala Rama.