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Seeking solutions to stem yet more spikes of violence in Buffalo neighborhoods

Mental health aid and youth mentor intervention have been suggested by some community leaders.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the violence that has plagued Buffalo in recent days and even back to last week, there are more calls for solutions to violence in our city neighborhoods.

We've heard some of them before but other community leaders are offering other elements to consider. 

Flashing lights lit up the night and early morning hours once again in Buffalo on Wednesday and Thursday with five people shot. Three were actually killed -- two women from domestic violence where the male suspect, a boyfriend, later took his own life, and then another man was killed in a separate incident on Bailey Avenue. Others were wounded.

We've heard causes listed before like warm weather and the easy accessibility of illegal handguns, which has been attacked by law enforcement, as many are smuggled in from out of state. So what else?

Council President and Reverend Darius Pridgen spoke to 2 On Your Side just before leading another funeral service Thursday morning for a homicide victim. He believes mental health perhaps intensified by the COVID pandemic must be considered with this common sense perspective.

"I don't think that a mentally healthy person easily takes a life. And when you see so much of it occurring, the question, I think, that we have to be again asking ourselves and moving forward with is, how we heal the mental part, how we deal with it mentally so that we don't become numb to it," Pridgen said.

Pridgen's partial solution was to seek scheduling changes for mental health counselors and specialists who can assist police. Pridgen spoke about the recently passed city budget.

"I did try to get the lead team and mental health professionals available at night," Pridgen said. "We see that the biggest spike of calls for mental health is in between about 5 p.m. to 1 o'clock in the morning. However, we don't have the lead team at that time, and I think that we have so many issues out there, I think that there are resources in our community."

Another pastor community leader is seeking public funding for currently volunteer community groups, such as Stop the Violence Coalition, Mad Dads, and the Most Valuable Parents group, to provide paid mentors who can intervene with young people before they turn to violence. 

Pastor James Giles says his Buffalo Peacemakers are subsidized, to a degree. But he would like to see previously mentioned volunteer anti-violence groups to perhaps also be partially funded so they could play a larger role with troubled youths.

For example, "They would have caseworkers, right, helping them to negotiate the challenges that they have in life. They would have these individuals marshal them back to school, marshal them back to job training programs, marshal them to job education, marshalling them to jobs themselves."

Finally, a common plea from overworked police, which always rings true in difficult investigations. Captain Jeff Rinaldo says, "Sometimes victims are not willing to cooperate with police when we need their help. I can't stress that enough. This activity that's occurring in residential areas, we need the public to help us to stem it." 

As we and they always remind the public, the Buffalo Police confidential tip line for the public is (716) 847-2255.