Community leaders are standing up for SNUG. SNUG, which is the word "guns" spelled backwards, is an anti gun violence program in the City of Albany that was forced to shut down due to lack of funds. Innae Park spoke with community leaders about their push to start the program again.
ALBANY, N.Y. – The plea has been made to being life to a program that fights unnecessary death and violence. At a joint legislative public hearing on the 2012-2013 executive budget, supporters of SNUG, the anti-violence program, came to ask the state to provide them $500,000. The program was originally provided with $500,000 by the state in the 2009-2010 budget year, allowing SNUG to kick off in October 2010. After a year, the funds ran out.
Albany Common Councilmember Barbara Smith began the testimony of SNUG’s advocates by referring to its success in its one year of existence.
“During the twelve months of SNUG’s operation, there was only instance of a retaliatory shooting,” she said. “Statistics from the Albany Police Department indicate that during the first three quarters of 2011, shooting incidents diminished compared to the same nine month period in 2010.”
Vivian Kornegay was among those who appeared at the hearing.
Kornegay said, “Our young people are dying in unacceptable numbers. SNUG is a program proven to work.”
Kornegay volunteered with the program and saw its impact firsthand, especially with violence affecting her own family.
“My son was shot, my middle son, so this is personal to me. I have a cousin who lost a son to gun violence, my son fortunately survived, but it’s personal,” said Kornegay.
Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff has been an outspoken advocate of SNUG as he says the workers reach people in ways that law enforcement can’t.
“The demand side, people wanting the guns, the subculture of violence, we have a very limited effect on. Programs like SNUG are community-based and get into the heart of where that mentality is,” Krokoff said.
Krokoff also says the program has even had an impact on members of his own department. “
They appreciate the men and women who are working with SNUG out there, trying to work with them to lower violence. We all have the same goals in the end, it’s good to be able to work together to do that,” said Krokoff.
The concept of working together resonates with other members of the community as well. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany listed the many organizations that have contributed to SNUG.
“Albany Medical Center is involved, the state university system is involved through the research component, the police community is involved, the neighborhood associations are involved and the faith community,” said the bishop. “I think all of us coming together can make a difference in Albany.”
The city’s common council has pledged $150,000 and a state grant of the same amount is expected to come in soon. SNUG has not yet received the money.
The city treasurer says a meeting is planned for this week to discuss the contract of the funds and without any other issue, they will be handed over soon after. The state grant’s contract is still in the works.
During the hearing, there were two conflicting moments. Assembly member Jeffrion Aubry mentioned that he heard there would definitely be funding for SNUG in the 2012-2013 budget. However, later on, Senator John DeFrancisco said the state was finding it difficult to find wiggle room financially. Advocates will not find out if SNUG has officially received funding until the budget passes.
SNUG’s director, Jamel Muhammad, is hoping to re-activate the program March 1st. It is contingent on whether or not the funds are received in time.