Albany County is looking to help the city of Albany deal with raging gun violence.
Many, including the mayor and local activists, say the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the Albany’s annual summer violence spike, which has particularly impacted young people of color. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce introduced a series of summer programs for at-risk youth on Tuesday.
"Two of the programs, 'Jamal Hood's House of Hoops,' is one of them," said McCoy. " The other one, 'Just Be Ready,' are the basketball skills and drills programs that include mentorship and aspect for at-risk youth. So, two great programs that will be kicking off. The third one I'll be announcing, it's run by Church of St. Vincent de Paul and one of this thing the program is going to focus on is character development, supporting your community in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent gun violence. Also have physical fitness. They're going to have outdoor games, yoga, as well as meditation and much much more."
McCoy noted the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital District’s Urban Leadership Summer Teen Internship is rolling out a five-week program providing career development and college preparation workshops and helping with computer literacy and leadership skills. He says performing arts and recreational activities will also be core parts of the program. Another inititiative, "Our Art Class," will offer socio-emotional and trauma informed care workshops to families of the Arbor Hill neighborhood through painting, gardening and other forms of art. And one more:
"'Zero Youth Detention Task Force,' which is chaired by Dr. Alice Green, who leads the Center For Law and Justice to discuss new ways to address youth gun violence in Albany County."
McCoy says what happens in the city affects the entire county. He stressed the need to invest in rewarding opportunities for young people to learn and grow in safe environments, and he says that can be done through sports, physical fitness, the arts, mentorship, career development and more.
Joyce, a fellow Democrat, says the legislature added $15,000 to the budget last year to the Department for Children, Youth and Families for programs aimed at young people.
"Some of the issues that we've seen in the city and throughout violence and kind of like the the coming out of the pandemic, that kind of, that accelerated the discussion in terms of what we do for youth programming and youth employment, but I think I speak for the county executive. I speak for the members of legislature when I say just kids just need programming, and we didn't we just need to get to work and figuring out how we do it. Whether you live in the city of Albany whether you live in Latham or the hilltowns your kids want to play basketball, they want to do programming. They want to have jobs. So that's kind of what we kind of came together, and we brainstormed, and we figured out some good ideas to do it. As the County Executive mentioned before we challenged the community to come up with with plans and ideas how to safely implement programming for kids in the pandemic and we have some really good ideas."
Albany police spokesman Steve Smith says to date officers have investigated 67 shootings in the city this year. Six people have died in incidents of gun violence.