TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the state’s SNUG program, which aims to tackle violence, especially gun violence, will be adding over two dozen new employees. Of those, five new workers will be deployed to the Capital Region with four working in Albany and one in Troy.
“The hope is that we will be out in the community and be able to reach more young people. Be able to cover more areas and really just take part in making the community safer,” said Damon Bacote, deputy commissioner at the Office of Youth Justice at the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Bacote was briefly the program manager at the SNUG site in Mount Vernon, New York. He said he knows all too well the challenges that SNUG’s outreach workers face in tackling and discussing gun violence. However, he said that he hopes that 29 new employees could mean that more people can be helped.
“Some of the biggest challenges that [outreach workers] face are that they are just one person—or in some places, there are five people. Even if you’re working with seven to 10 young people, there is still more need,” said Bacote. “There are still more resources. With the governor’s commitment, 29 new workers are coming on. That’s some of the resources we need.”
The 29 new workers will work in several cities across the state, including Albany and Troy. The new SNUG hires were made possible by an $8.2 million investment in street outreach and violence interruption programs announced by the governor in November.
“People are taking anger and anxiety out in the streets and that’s why we need you now more than ever,” Hochul said at a press conference in front of the new SNUG workers. “You have lived it, some of you. You understand what the motivators are, what drives someone to make the wrong decisions that can alter their life forever.”