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Has 'Micro Hot Spot' Policing Helped Reduce Shootings In Buffalo?

The red, white and blue lights on the top of two patrol cars swirled at a Buffalo intersection on Aug. 10. It wasn't a 911 call that drew the police that night. They were in that precise location because police identified it as a "micro hot spot." Since June, two people were shot and another stabbed within a block of that intersection – a sign there could be more violence in the future. The officers' assignment: park their cars, put on their lights, walk around and talk to whoever is out and about. The police aren't there to ticket drivers and arrest people, although they can if they see a crime in progress or a traffic violation. That's not the point, the Buffalo News reports. "Our presence alone will act as a deterrence for any other gun violence," Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said.

After two years of near record-high numbers of shootings in Buffalo, gun violence is on the decline in the city, even when the May 14 massacre at Tops Markets that left 10 dead and three more shot is factored in. Shootings are down about 36 percent in the first seven months of this year, compared to 2021. In July, usually one of the busiest months for crimes, the number of people who were shot was down 65 percent, compared to both 2020 and 2021. Shootings in cities across the state outside of New York City have overall shown a decrease, but Albany and Syracuse have continued to see increases. "This new strategy, which is very data-driven, where we identify hot spots and then send police into hot spots for foot patrol has helped to build the community and police relationship," Mayor Byron Brown said. Advocates for criminal justice reform have said that hot-spot policing leads to disproportionate arrests and ticketing in poor communities of color.


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