SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – There have been 27 homicides so far this year in Syracuse, putting the city on pace to surpass a record of 31 set in 2016, according to the city’s Police Department.
Of those 27 homicides, 22 involved guns, said the Syracuse Police Department’s public information officer, Sgt. Matthew Malinowski.
Malinowski said the department has formed a special unit intended to reduce gun violence.
“We do have a gun suppression detail which targets our high crime areas using a data-driven approach to figure out exactly where the crimes are being committed,” said Malinowski.
He described “high crime areas” as parts of the city where the most shots fired and shooting with injuries calls are recorded. He said these areas are concentrated in the south and southwest Syracuse neighborhoods.
The unit also targets people. Malinowski explained that the police unit targets “those in the community that pose more of a risk.” That includes gang members and illegal gun carriers.
Malinowski said the unit is a team of officers who “don’t have to respond to all the other police calls that are going out.”
“The majority of what they do is going after these target areas and target people,” he said.
Malinowski described the strategy as “fishing with a spear versus a net,” because instead of policing the entire city evenly, the department is “aggressively” policing the parts of the city with highest rates of shots fired calls and the people with “a higher chance of committing gun violence.”
The unit responds to all calls from those”target areas,” but Malinowski said their focus remains on gun violence and reducing the number of calls reporting illegal gun possession, shots fired and shootings with injuries.
There were 20 homicides in Syracuse last year, according to city police. Aggravated assaults are also up 16% from a year ago, according to police.
Police have not identified a cause for the increase in Syracuse’s violent crime. Malinowski said that the rates fluctuate from year to year, so it is too early to claim that this year’s increase is indicative of a larger trend.