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Albany County's new DISCOVER program aims to remove illegal guns from streets

An advertisement for Albany County's DISCOVER program on the side of a CDTA bus
Alexander Babbie
An advertisement for Albany County's DISCOVER program on the side of a CDTA bus

With warmer weather on the way, Albany County officials are promoting a new effort to reduce gun violence.

The Detailed Instruction Supporting Community Violence Education and Reduction, or DISCOVER program, was approved by the Albany County Legislature last year. Local officials announced Thursday that residents can now report illegal guns on a new tip line, 518-655-7860, which is being advertised on the sides of CDTA buses.

Sheriff Craig Apple and County Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce joined legislation sponsor Dustin Reidy, a first-term Democrat from the 30th district, for the announcement at the Albany Capital Center.

“Members of the Albany County Legislature, working with Sheriff Apple, and stakeholders in our community, are standing up and thinking of a new way to combat gun violence in our communities," said Joyce.

Reidy says it’s intended as a community improvement measure.

“The DISCOVER program was introduced from the fact that ending gun violence is going to take all of us working together, from our communities to every level of government," Reidy said. "And the anonymous gun tip line facilitates just that and has the potential to be a game-changer in this fight.”

To incentivize use of the tip line, Apple says tips that turn up illegal guns carry a cash reward.

“This is another great tool in the toolbox, 518-655-7860, my dispatchers will answer, there’s a process in place," Apple said. "If it pans out, you’ll get $500.”

Apple said he hopes DISCOVER will build on the success of a recent gun buyback in Colonie.

“You know, our last gun buyback brought in over a hundred-usually it’s more rifles and older rifles that people just want to dispose of, this one was actually more handguns, 60 handguns," said the sheriff.

Apple said such efforts are aimed at getting illegal firearms off the street.

“This program has already had success. In January, we held our first gun buyback in Guilderland," Reidy said. "We brought in over 110 firearms, guns included those that had their serial numbers filed off.”

Apple noted that it takes coordinated local efforts to keep people safe at a time when communities like his are grappling with a spike in gun violence.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.