UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – In April of 2022 Governor Kathy Hochul announced the expansion of the New York State SNUG Street Outreach program to the City of Utica giving up to $500,000 in funding to establish the program. now, just last month the program was officially implemented in Utica under the community organization ICAN.

Utica SNUG is one of fourteen programs across New York Sate working to reduce gun violence. the agency can provide assistance through the office of victim services, which could assist with medical and counseling bills, funeral and burial expenses as well as any other costs that are directly related to crime. The agency works with known shooters, or people who have been shot aiming to reduce shootings and save lives by mediating conflicts in order to prevent retaliation.

Whenever there is an act of gun violence, members of the agency come together at the site for what they call “a shooting response”. Their goal is to not only inform the community, but call on them to take action.

“We want to show them there’s more to life, gun violence does not have to be their norm,” said Shannon Patterson, Program Manager.

Patterson tells Eyewitness News they mentor high-risk youth connecting them with job training, and education as well as providing treatment for emotional support for victims and their families.

“It’s also a part of healing it’s a loss for the community every time there’s a shooting,” said Lisa Reginelli, Director of Transitional Services.

With the uptick in gun violence in the city, Lisa says that gun violence is a public health crisis and should be treated as such.

“Many of us live here, grew up here are raising families here. We want this to be a safe and healthy community and we’re just one of the ways we can do that,” said Reginelli.