Press Conference Highlights Gun-Violence Statistics, Barriers
To Preventing Violence, and New Initiatives
$5,000 Reward Offered for Information About Illegal Guns
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, joined by Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey and City of Newburgh Police Chief Arnold Amthor, on January 12, 2021, held a press conference to discuss gun violence in the City of Newburgh, as well as initiatives to address that violence. The press conference took place at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on South William Street in the City of Newburgh. Also attending the event was Brian DiGirolamo, Resident Agent in Charge for the Hudson Valley Field Office of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); Newburgh City Manager Joseph Donat; Charles Quinn, Chief Executive Office, and Michelle McKeon, Chief Operating Officer, from the Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP); and Orange County Legislator James Kulisek.
In recent years, progress has been made in reducing the amount of gun violence in the City of Newburgh. Data released on January 8, 2021, by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) compared rates of gun violence between 2019 and 2020 in the twenty jurisdictions in New York State, including Newburgh, that account for the most gun violence outside New York City. In those jurisdictions, in total, the number of shooting victims and the number of shooting homicides both skyrocketed 82% between 2019 and 2020. In the City of Newburgh, however, over that same period, the number of shooting victims decreased 13%, and the number of shooting homicides declined 66%. That progress has been attributed, in part, to various initiatives, including:
The Gun-Involved Violence Elimination initiative, funded by DCJS, which uses several strategies to address violence in the City of Newburgh.
The Non-Fatal Shootings initiative, also funded by DCJS, which provided enhanced resources to investigate non-fatal shootings with uncooperative victims, and which resulted in a 26% increase in the number of non-fatal shootings solved. Although funding for that program has run out, the City has formed the Multi-Agency Strategic Response Team to replace the function with local resources.
The Blue-Gray Detail from summer 2020, which brought multiple law enforcement agencies together to address gun violence in the City of Newburgh.
Despite the progress achieved against gun violence in recent years, the rate of violence in the City of Newburgh remains by far the highest in Orange County. As of 2019, the federal Census Bureau estimated Newburgh’s population at 28,177, and Orange County’s population at 384, 940. Newburgh, therefore, makes up slightly more than 7% of Orange County’s population. On average, however, the City accounts for nearly half of the county’s violent crime. In 2019, there were 319 violent crimes committed in the City of Newburgh, including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Some of the illegally possessed guns recovered by City of Newburgh law enforcement in 2020.
Many of the guns involved in crime in the City of Newburgh were stolen from lawful owners in other states, especially southern states. Since the summer of 2020, law enforcement in the City of Newburgh has seen a surge in illegally possessed guns, including many high-value weapons. More than thirty illegally possessed guns have been recovered just since the end of August. All told in 2020, law enforcement in the City has recovered 68 total firearms:
38 semi-automatic pistols
17 long guns
3 assault-style rifles
Unfortunately, regardless of the obvious need to combat gun violence in the City of Newburgh, law enforcement has difficulty gaining cooperation from the public in solving the problem. In fact, victims of gun violence and many witnesses refuse to come forward to provide the evidence necessary to address that violence. Statistically, four out of five victims and witnesses refuse to cooperate.
“In recent years, we have made tremendous progress in reducing violence in the City of Newburgh,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “due in no small part to the assistance of DCJS and its Commissioner Mike Green. Commissioner Green and his agency have provided significant funding for our efforts in Newburgh and have shown an important commitment to those efforts. Going forward, we will be redoubling our efforts with law enforcement agencies, especially the City of Newburgh Police and our partners at ATF, to track illegal guns and to get them off the streets. But removing guns from circulation is only part of the solution. I call upon the City’s elected and appointed officials and residents to create a new spirit of cooperation, one designed to bring the entire city together to stop the violence, and to work with law enforcement to bring to justice those using guns to hurt or kill others. We must change the culture in the City of Newburgh as it relates to gun violence. Hopefully, our discussion today will be the beginning of that process.”
“We know that we cannot stop crime completely in America or in our city of Newburgh,” said Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey, “but we should be able to stop gun violence in our city, especially during a deadly virus that too has taken the lives of many already. We truly need a ceasefire in the City of Newburgh, New York. We know that we cannot arrest our way through this problem; therefore we must re-imagine how we approach this matter and become creative; we must get residents and stakeholders alike to work with law enforcement and city officials to assist in the policing of our own communities! We must work together!! A complete collaboration has to happen; now more than ever!”
“In order to properly address and reduce gun violence in Newburgh,” said Newburgh Police Chief Arnold Amthor, “we must have a multifaceted approach. That approach must include law enforcement, including multiple agencies, as well as community involvement and intervention.”
“RECAP is happy to stand with Dave Hoovler to discuss the reduction of gun violence in the City of Newburgh,” said Charles Quinn, CEO of RECAP. “The District Attorney’s Office has provided enormous resources to the city in support of anti-violence efforts. RECAP is proud to have the SNUG Program operating as credible messengers and violence interrupters in Newburgh and look forward to continue to work with our community to reduce gun violence and create a safer city for all of our neighbors.”
An anonymous donor has offered $5,000 to those providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals trafficking in or possessing illegal guns. If you have such information, please contact the City of Newburgh Police Department at (845) 561-3131.
In addition, in the spring and summer of 2021, two gun buy-back programs are expected to be scheduled in the City of Newburgh. In the past, gun buy-back programs have been effective in removing some firearms from circulation.