Baskin: extra county cash, accountability for Buffalo anti-violence teams wanted

The Erie County’s Legislative Chair is proposing training and data collection for nonprofits working to curb violence in the city of Buffalo.

BUFFALO, NY – The increase in gunfights and killings in Buffalo is a major concern for any elected official representing the city.

That certainly applies to April Baskin. Their Erie County Legislature District includes the east and west sides of Buffalo, which have the most violent neighborhoods.

But for Baskin it’s also very personal.

“My first cousin, Marcus Robinson, stopped on April 24th to get some refueling. A couple of guys drove up and killed him, ”Baskin said.

The crime scene is across from Baskin’s district office on East Delavan Avenue. The case remains unsolved.

To help defuse disputes that can escalate into violence, there are a number of nonprofit groups operating in Buffalo. These include Peacemakers, Mad Dads of Greater Buffalo, Stop the Violence Coalition, and The Fathers.

Baskin, as chairman of the county legislature, wants them to receive county funding, but with constraints and questions.

“Solving these problems isn’t just about dumping money into programming or just writing checks. What grants do the members of these groups receive? What kind of work do you do? ”Baskin asked in a recent interview with 2 On Your Side.

Baskin put together a proposal that she calls the Erie County Gun Violence Relief Alliance. She wants to support the work of these anti-violence groups with district money in a certain way.

The proposal calls for $ 500,000 to train members of these groups in peer mediation, conflict resolution, and trauma-informed care. And she wants another $ 300,000 to be spent on a software system to analyze data collected by the anti-violence groups to show “the results of their … contact”.

If that sounds like Baskin wants to see the county get results in exchange for their money, this is exactly what they are looking for. 2 On Your Side asked Baskin what she would say to groups who might be afraid of being judged in this way.

Her answer: “If we are to do the job and improve the results, there should be no need to be reluctant or concerned. But those who disagree with the type of structure I am proposing should perhaps question their opposition. Anyone who opposes this means that they are reluctant to get better results and so there is no longer any room for them to act in this area. “

Pastor James Giles agrees.

Giles heads the Back to Basics Ministry, which oversees Peacemakers, the best known of the local anti-violence groups. He says other government sources of funding for peacemakers already require various records of achievement.

But Giles wants a voice in evaluating his group because he says elected officials are often unaware of the depth of the work involved in deterring violence.

“I rarely see one of them at funerals. They don’t actively engage with the players or with the gangs. They don’t know who the gangs are. They don’t know why they’re shooting You don’t hang out in the clubs where there are fights. I don’t see them in clubs out there on Chippewa. So it is really hard for you to determine measurements for me. ”

Baskin says she discussed her proposal with Erie County’s executive director, Mark Poloncarz, who earlier this year described gun violence as a county public health crisis, indicating more county spending on the issue.

However, Baskin insists that any increase in funding comes with collecting data to know what the county is getting in return.

“We’re going to be doing more with funding and we’re going to be giving a lot more, but when we do we will have a transparent process to understand that it is having an effect,” Baskin said.