Oneida County to tackle youth gun violence issue

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Communities across the nation, including here in Central New York, are facing a rise in youth violence.

“We started off the New Year on New Year’s Day with a homicide in Utica, followed by another homicide. And both of the people that were killed were teenagers,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

Cities like Utica and Rome are facing an uptick in youth crime. The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office is also seeing an uptick, a problem Sheriff Maciol saw coming 12 years ago when he was involved in a study looking into it.

“Many of us that were involved in that study, predicted things like this were going to happen if we don’t get a control on social media,” said Sheriff Maciol.

Family structure is also having an impact on some kids and teens.

“And then low and behold, we get bail reform thrown at us, discovery reform thrown at us, raise the age thrown at us, and all of these things just accelerated,” said Sheriff Maciol.

The Oneida County Youth Services Council is now turning their attention to local leaders and law enforcement through a panel discussion held earlier this week focusing on youth and gun violence.

“This was a good meeting, but we need to do more than just have meetings,” said Sheriff Maciol.

Sheriff Maciol says there will be more panel discussions held moving forward.

“When you talk to people who live in certain communities, if they don’t feel safe walking on the street at night or they don’t feel safe going on to their porch. There’s a problem there and we really need to get things back under control,” said Sheriff Maciol.

Sheriff Maciol says its going to take a lot of community involvement to tackle and solve this ongoing issue.

“This is going to be a multi-prong approach. We need to start working to get boys and girls clubs. We need to make sure we are doing all we can to help ensure there’s a family structure at home. We need to make sure that we have the proper laws in place that can help us. We need to hold people accountable when they do something wrong and they do a violent act because right now, there’s the impression that in our system in New York State we’re not holding people accountable. So we need to make changes,” said Sheriff Maciol.

More discussions held by the Oneida County Youth Services Council will be held in the future. The community is invited to attend.

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