Congressman Higgins Commends Work of VIPER Task Force, Advocates for Program to be Permanent
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) commended the success of the Violence Prevention and Elimination Response (VIPER) Task Force and would like to see the coalition’s work continue beyond October.
In June Congressman Higgins wrote to the U.S. Attorney General requesting assistance from the Department of Justice in addressing the wave of violent crime in Western New York. In July the Violence Prevention and Elimination Response (VIPER) Task Force was formed, led by the Western District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office, providing an immediate surge team of federal and local agencies collaboratively focused on getting illegal guns off the streets in Buffalo and Niagara Falls and stopping violent criminals.
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Higgins hailed the effort in remarks on the House floor, “VIPER has been remarkably successful at stemming gun violence and saving lives. Buffalo has seen a 50% decrease in homicides since the program started. Each person lost to gun violence is another human denied a lifetime of opportunity and a family left behind. VIPER is continuing through October, but the Department of Justice needs to make this a permanent program to stop gun violence in Buffalo and throughout the nation.”
Earlier this year Higgins joined city and community leaders to announce $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support Community Violence Intervention programs, putting trusted messengers on the streets to support safer neighborhoods.
Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, is also a cosponsor of H.R. 4188, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would invest in evidence-based, effective community violence reductions initiatives as well as job and trades training in communities with high rates of gun violence.
Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 27, 2021 confirm violent crime is a nationwide challenge. The number of murders in the United States in 2020 spiked by 30%, a record increase.