November 9, 2021
Press Release
Announces $5 billion investment in Community Violence Intervention initiatives targeting at-risk communities, legislation to get illegal guns off streets

(Rochester, N.Y.) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle announced action he is taking to combat the devastating cycle of gun violence plaguing our community. This includes a $5 billion investment in Community Violence Intervention, an evidence-based model to confront the cycle of violence our community faces, as well as legislation to get illegal guns off our streets and strengthen trauma-informed resources for at-risk communities.

“Every day, my heart breaks for the growing number of families losing children, neighbors, and friends to the devastating cycle of gun violence,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “We have a responsibility to work together with law enforcement, faith leaders, grassroots organizations, and families to provide healthy outlets that keep young people off the streets and illegal guns out of the wrong hands. That’s why I’m taking action by investing in programs like Community Violence Intervention to make our community safer and empower young people to lead healthy, successful lives.”

Community Violence Intervention (CVI) programs are a proven model that utilize trusted messengers who work directly with individuals most likely to commit gun violence, intervening in conflicts, and connecting people to social, health and wellness, and employment services to reduce the likelihood of violence. Studies have shown that CVI programs can reduce violence by as much as 60% and that a multifaceted approach – combining the efforts of CVI programs and law enforcement, for instance – can reduce the chance of retaliatory violence to less than 1%.

Many of these programs exist in Rochester but lack reliable funding to be effective. That is why Rep. Morelle has fought to include $5 billion in the Build Back Better plan to fund CVI initiatives in our community for 10 years and leverage the following strategies:

  • Street outreach and violence interruption
  • Group Violence Intervention
  • Hospital-based violence intervention
  • Trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy

Record-high spikes in gun violence have plagued our community and demand our immediate action. In addition to investing in CVI programs, Rep. Morelle is also working to pass legislation to stem the flow of illegal weapons onto our streets and strengthen trauma-informed resources for those impacted by gun violence to prevent the cycle from continuing:

  • The Gun Theft Prevention Act: Original legislation written by Rep. Morelle that sets security standards for firearms dealers to prevent deadly weapons from flowing onto our streets.
  • The Firearm Retailer Code of Conduct Act: Would establish basic business practices and certification requirements for gun shop owners and employees to ensure illegal weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals.
  • Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act: Establish an interagency council to ensure those impacted by gun violence can get the support they need to prevent the cycle of violence from continuing.

"Over the past year, too many people, especially young people, have lost their lives to violence. Community Violence Intervention programs are vital to quell the senseless deaths we have seen due to violence," said Mayor-Elect Malik Evans. "I applaud Congressman Morelle for working to secure funding for programs and strategies that will put an end to the violence and create a stronger, safer community." 

“The safety of our residents is my highest priority – that means reducing gun violence in Rochester and Monroe County. This is a job for our entire community: every branch and level of government must work in tandem with community based organizations, religious institutions, neighborhoods and families to keep our communities safe,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “The historic investment being made through the $5 Billion investment in Community Violence Intervention initiatives will be essential in funding violence prevention, providing support and services to victims, reduce retaliation rates, and keep illegal guns off our streets. The gun violence in our community has reached emergency levels, and we must treat it as such.”

“The bloody scourge of gun violence is destroying young lives in our community and leaving many families devastated with inconsolable grief,” said Reverend Lewis Stewart, President, United Christian Leadership Ministry. “The Community Violence Intervention program designed to save lives, stop the flow of illegal firearms and break the cycle of violence is a reliable and effective investment in a solutions-oriented strategy backed by Congressman Joseph Morelle, a leader who has demonstrated his love, and concern for the wellbeing of our community by taking action to combat gun violence by advocating for this $5 billion investment in the Community Violence Intervention initiative. Thank you, Congressman Morelle for caring and showing not just talk, but courageous action and visionary leadership.”

“Our families have been challenged by so much this past year, from the COVID-19 pandemic, job insecurity, figuring out home-schooling, to paying the rent and providing food for their children, and now we have the added dimension of a dramatic increase in violence, including crimes involving guns,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “We in government at all levels must partner together with community and faith leaders to take every step possible to address violence in our neighborhoods. I thank Congressmember Morelle for securing this funding which will help in our efforts. I know that there are many programs and people in our community ready to address gun violence, assist at-risk youth, develop conflict resolution alternatives and to make violence prevention programs work for our community and our families. This funding will help to effectively implement violence prevention programs and fund the support services many of our families so desperately need.”

“With over 300 shooting victims this year alone, we cannot afford to ignore the reality in front of us,” said Assemblymember Demond Meeks. “Gun violence is an epidemic that continues to claim the lives of our sisters and brothers on a daily basis. It is essential that we address this crisis with effective leadership and practical solutions that protect members of our community. I would like to thank Congressman Morelle for his commitment and delivering critical investments toward violence prevention services throughout our community. Together, it is our responsibility to take back our community."

“We know that law enforcement alone cannot correct the uptick in violence we are seeing in communities like ours. We must identify and address the root causes of violence,” said Senator Samra Brouk. “This means we must invest in youth development, behavioral health, and social supports to help lift families out of poverty and ensure they have the resources they need to survive. I thank Congressman Morelle for his work in securing $5 billion in Community Violence Intervention funding through the Build Back Better plan. These funds, once in the hands of local organizations, will address violence before it can happen. As Chair of the New York State Senate Committee on Mental Health, I look forward to finding additional opportunities to address violence in our communities.”

“Sadly, Rochester’s young people have become accustomed to violent acts in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney. “Real action must be taken to address the dramatic rise in gun violence that has devastated our neighborhoods.  It is up to leaders to create new economic opportunities and youth-development programs that provide mentorship and assistance. I am grateful to Congressman Morelle for his work to ensure that adequate funding for Community Violence Intervention Programs is made available for Rochester.”

"The losses we have suffered from gun violence reverberate across our entire community,” said Assemblymember Jen Lunsford. “That is why I join with my colleagues from across the county, from all levels of government, from community groups and neighborhood associations, to band together to fight this scourge.  Investments like those made today with federal dollars, joining with those we made in this year's state budget, will help fund the trauma-informed, community centered, evidence-based programs we know will work to reduce gun violence on our streets."

"We all have a role to play in reducing violence in our community, and prevention is a key part of that," said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter. "We need to help families and young people before they fall into the cycle of violence, which is exactly what Community Violence Intervention programs will do. I am grateful to Congressman Morelle for his leadership in addressing gun violence and look forward to the continued partnership between law enforcement, elected officials, and the community to create safer neighborhoods for everyone."

“We are thankful to Congressman Morelle for taking this aggressive action aimed at curbing gun violence in our community,” said Dwayne Mahoney, Executive director, Boys & Girls Club of Rochester. “Our community is under siege and every time someone is the victim of violence the impact it has on families and friends is devasting. This past week our community lost 15-year-old Ja’Mere Wade, a Club kid whose friends, families, and community are devasted by his loss of life. Any additional resources that can be brought to aid in this fight are welcomed.”

“Ibero strongly believes that community-based violence intervention programs are critical to reducing gun violence and building resilience in our communities,” said Angelica Perez-Delgado, President & CEO of Ibero-American Action League. “Ibero has a long-standing history and commitment in the El Camino Neighborhood. We have worked diligently to create spaces throughout the neighborhood that help our residents feel safe. The Community Violence Initiative will provide the resources required to build on that work and sustain evidence informed models, like the one used by Ibero, to transform neighborhoods plagued by gun violence.”

“We must invest in prevention out on the streets, and it has to be full time work,” said Councilmember Miguel Meléndez. “By investing in credible community messengers, we are giving young people hope and an opportunity to see their world differently. The community has a critical role to play in violence intervention and these resources will meet people where they are at. I am thankful for the advocacy to get this done.”

“With the push for $5 billion in support for the Community Violence Intervention initiatives, Congressman Joe Morelle has shown he is committed to ending violence,” said Mike Bader, Vice President, Rochester Building & Construction Trades Council. “Something must be done to break the cycle of gun violence in our communities. This problem will not go away unless we properly fund this initiative and get illegal guns off the street.”

“The value of a job goes beyond the financial security of a steady paycheck, it’s also the sense of purpose and identity that comes with it,” said Dave Seeley, Executive Director, RochesterWorks. “We look forward to continuing our work with our community partners to create pathways for economic independence that help people to break out of generational poverty, helping them to find a sense of belonging in the workforce and stop the cycle of gun violence plaguing our neighborhoods. I applaud Congressman Morelle for working to secure this additional funding for Community Violence Programs.”