Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah has disclosed a comprehensive gun safety plan in the New York.
The plan, as contained in a statement on Wednesday June 8, 2022, follows a sweeping series of state and local legislation strengthening New York’s gun safety laws in the aftermath of the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings.
“As a mother of two school-aged children here in Westchester, I feel the same fear so many parents experience each day when they send their kids off to school,” DA Rocah said.
She added, “Recent events around the country have made it clear that we cannot let our guard down anywhere, including here in Westchester County, to keep our children and families, our teachers and first responders, our neighbors and communities safe.
“So today I am putting forth a five-point plan to highlight how my office is doing—and will do—everything within our power to ensure New York’s strong gun safety laws are used as effectively as possible.”
“This epidemic has become so pervasive that, for the first time in our nation’s history, gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in this country. We simply cannot accept this.”
While revealing the safety plan, Rocah stated that the first method to adopt is getting guns off streets.
“There are more guns in circulation in our country than ever before. We are working to get illegal guns off our streets through coordinated operations with our law enforcement partners at the local, county, state and federal levels,” she stated.
The largest operation to date resulted in the seizure of more than 100 guns,including “ghost guns,” body armor and high-capacity drum magazines, silencers, ballistic vests, counterfeit police shields and significant quantities of ammunition.
Another method is gun buybacks, which is similar to the operation carried out in New Rochelle last year in partnership with the New York State Attorney General and New Rochelle Police Department.
“We pledge to use office forfeiture funds to continue efforts in the community toward more gun buybacks. We are ready to expand our work with municipal partners immediately,” Rocah promised.
She noted that origins of seized guns used in crimes across communities will be traced and investigations will be launched so as to prosecute whenever possible.
Rocah stated that part of the plan is prosecution of gun crimes. “We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute crimes involving guns and gun violence, including violent gang cases and firearms trafficking,” she said.
Safe firearm storage and red flag law education will be promoted, Rocah explained.
“During the last one month, our office has proactively worked with partners across Westchester to increase community awareness about gun safety,” she said.
“Launched the Safe Storage Program, in partnership with Moms Demand Action andWestchester school districts, to help reduce the risk of school shootings and gun suicides among young people.
“The program provides valuable resources on gun safety to Westchester school districts, which includes sending every student home with information on the importance of keeping guns safely secured and out of the hands of children and teens.”
Also on the plan is early intervention and mental Health. “Together with the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health and other community partners, we will focus on diversion and treatment for first-time, non-violent misdemeanor offenders, expanding our successful Fresh Start initiative countywide this month,” Rocah said.
She disclosed further, “We are also working with our partners in the court system to launch a misdemeanor mental health court in Westchester County later this year.
“Data shows that treatment and early intervention prevent first-time offenders from turning into violent felons down the road.”
Rocah noted that the last method on the plan is fighting extremism.
“We will continue our valued partnerships with county organizations that work to combat extremism. We will continue our trainings for law enforcement to ensure they have the information they need to understand extremism when they see it.
“Our Crime Strategies Center will work with our law enforcement partners to monitor extremism on social media where warranted.
“We have also assigned one of our investigators to be embedded with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for the first time in nearly a decade,” she concluded.