SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– A proposed program to try and reduce gun violence in the City of Syracuse includes paying the most high-risk individuals affiliated with gangs a weekly stipend.

The Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence presented the Syracuse Safer Streets program to Common Council Tuesday afternoon. The pilot program is based on a year-long study by the office to reduce gun violence in the community. 

It targets 50 of the most high-risk 18-24-year-olds in the city and enrolls them in programming to put an end to gang-related conflict before it turns into potential gun violence.

If the participants attend the programming and stay out of trouble, they will receive a $100 weekly stipend.

“So here’s an opportunity where they will look and not cast a wide net to serve 300 young individuals. We’re gonna go and look at the 50 top so we can be able to do some very targeted intervention,”

Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, City of Syracuse

The Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence has been working with the Syracuse Police Department to identify these high-risk teens and young adults. Programming would include case management, mentoring, conflict management, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Programming would be provided through trusted community violence intervention organizations already making a mark on Syracuse. These include Street Addiction, Good Life Foundation, the Salvation Army, and Project Heal. 

“You can’t just tell a young person to put a gun down that’s been involved with gun violence for 10 years since they were eight years old being around trauma being around guns but what are putting in their hands so it’s giving them the opportunity, a job and also that cognitive behavioral therapy which is very important,”

Pastor Lateef Johnson-Kinsey, Director of the Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence

Common Councilors had dozens of questions throughout the presentation Tuesday afternoon. Some, including Councilor Pat Hogan, were skeptical.

“I don’t know what kind of message we send to the community about giving stipends to people who are involved in criminal activity,”

Common Councilor Pat Hogan, District 2, City of Syracuse

The weekly stipend would be a way to incentivize individuals to remain in the program and stay out of trouble. Deputy Mayor Owens says the City won’t track what each person does with the stipend but says it won’t be given to those who don’t follow through with the stipulations of the program. 

The Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence is asking Common Council for $1 Million to fund the program, $120,000 of that would go toward the weekly stipends. The proposed program would last from around June or July through September.