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Proper tools and technology can curb gun violence

May 18, 2016



Studies overwhelmingly indicate that recidivism rates for those who carry illegal firearms are very high.

In cities like Baltimore, statistics show 42 percent of defendants charged with felony gun crimes have priors related to firearm arrests. In New York City, those convicted of felony gun possession are more likely to be re-arrested for crimes of a violent nature, with some unfortunate cases resulting in homicides.

Citizens want their legislatures to take a hard-line stance on this vitally important issue, and across the country, these governmental bodies are contemplating Gun Offender Registry Acts (GORA) or already have them “on the books". GORAs require offenders convicted of felony gun possession to adhere to protocols similar to that of sex offender laws, which compel parolees to register their addresses and promptly notify authorities of residence changes for a period of time following their conviction (and/or release). GORAs mirror Megan’s Law, which has proven successful in monitoring sex offenders around the country. Registrants’ information remains on public record for a period of time determined by each city’s ordinance and lists specific crimes that trigger reporting, usually those with high recidivism rates in that locale. Violators remain on this registry for a period of time up to four years from conviction or release.

Surveillance can prove to be another useful tool in this fight. Newburgh’s police department, for example, has pursued federal grants to fund a system of audio sensors that would alert officers wherever gunshots are fired and give them a precise location within minutes. Once their application is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, a subscription to “ShotSpotter,” a system created by Newark, California-based SST Inc., would blanket the city with nearly 100 sensors that detect gunshots and send real-time alerts to the department’s communications center and computer terminals in squad cars. The system not only indicates when and where shots have been fired, but also numbers the shots and the direction shooters are moving. If ShotSpotter lives up to its billing, the system would allow officers to respond to more gun incidents, which often go unreported or are reported too late for officers to apprehend suspected shooters.

As a city resident and community advocate, I can count more than 15 homicides in the City of Poughkeepsie since my family and I moved here in 2001. Typically, they involve north-side black males under 30 years of age.

It is my humble opinion that gun violence will be abated in our beloved city when the brave men and women in uniform are provided with the tools and technology to address the problem. Drafting a GORA law that meets the specific needs of our community will protect our neighborhoods and our children from senseless gun violence and gun play within city limits.

Many of my neighbors fear reprisal. Brazen criminals and their associates use intimidation and coercion that too often make them reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement. A line needs to be drawn in the sand. A line that creates a wall of defense around our neighbors and our families by granting law enforcement the legislative and technological tools required to protect our community from the morally depraved who roam our streets with disdain for the police and those they are sworn to protect.

GORA is that line in the sand. Come and speak to my neighbors and hear their stories firsthand if you don’t want to take my word for it.

The citizens of this community have lived in fear for too long. City hall has the ability, the power, the authority, the moral obligation and the duty to do everything in its power to stop the endless cycle of senseless violence. GORA can be the first step we take as a forward-thinking community to win in this race against time.

Pough Keepsie Journal - USA Today