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SNUG funds approved by Common Council

November 22, 2011

by Mary Francis Stoute

The Albany Common Council voted unanimously Monday to pass a budget amendment that will match funding for the anti-crime program SNUG. Mayor Jerry Jennings will make the final decision to approve or veto the amendment.

SNUG, which stands for “guns” spelled backwards, is an intervention program that started in September 2010. The program was created to reduce shootings in communities.

Many people showed up to the meeting to voice their support for the program. Omar Ford, an outreach worker for SNUG, spoke to council members.

Public awaiting the vote (Mary Francis Stoute)

“The program brings hope where there is no hope. It helped us to perfect our community,” said Ford.

Albany has benefited from the program. Since it began, the number of shootings has decreased. Since the program ceased violence has risen. Since October 14, there have been 11 shootings.

Ford said that the approval of the amendment will help to cut down on the amount of money that taxpayers have to pay in the longterm.

“The average healthcare cost from injuries is $24,000. If you multiply that by 11 victims, that is a lot of money,” Ford said. “Most of those victims don’t have health insurance and taxpayers will be paying that bill.”

The outreach workers for SNUG are on call 24 hours a day and patrol areas during times when there is the most activity. This allows them to stop violence before it starts. When shootings occur, workers go to hospitals to speak to the victims at a time when they are most at risk for retaliation.

Councilman Richard Conti said it was important for the amendment to be passed because of the community benefits.

“This program is in other parts of the state and those programs have had success. It is an investment in the city and communities, especially in areas with violence,” said Conti.

The program is not only beneficial to the youth, but also to the workers. Some workers come from the same backgrounds as the kids they are helping and they act as mentors.

Outreach worker, Calvin Parker has personally benefited from the program.

“It gave me an opportunity to become a member of society,” said Parker.

He helps to steer kids who are in trouble in the right direction by helping them to get an education and by supporting their goals.

The state promised $150,000 to the five different SNUG sites across the state,

Common Council Members (Mary Francis Stoute)

but the Albany SNUG needed an additional $150,000 to operate. With the passing of this amendment, SNUG is one step closer to reaching this goal.

“It’s important to the community because it gives young people hope,” he said. -30-

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