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Law enforcement says repeat gun offenses on the rise, point to bail reform as the issue

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Police say they have seen more repeat gun offenders in the past few years -and according to them, bail reform may be to blame.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said in the past three months, there have been three incidents where a suspect fired a gun at officers. In each of those cases, the suspects were either on parole or on probation.

“They’re convicted felons and they’re out on the streets carrying guns with apparently no fear of the criminal justice system,” Gramaglia said.

According to the commissioner, from 2019 to present, there have been 184 people in the City of Buffalo who have been arrested two or more times with a gun.

“Why are they out on the street a second time? Why are they out on the street a third time? I have one with seven gun arrests,” Gramaglia said.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said there are a number of reasons why we could be seeing the same people committing the same crimes based on the changes when bail reform was enacted.

“The judges are setting lower amounts of bail on these individuals with gun charges because of the mandate that they got on January 1, 2020 of the least restrictive form of bail,” he said. “…I’m seeing Buffalo City Court judges put 5-10,000 dollars on gun charges where pre-bail reform it was consistently 50-100,000 dollars.”

There is now also something called unsecured bond, where the defendant’s loved ones are able to essentially vouch for the suspect. In some cases, they only need to put up less than 10-percent of the bail to get the defendant out of jail.

“Or it could be a signature bond where a family member comes in and basically signs a sheet of paper and says “I promise to give you money if my person takes off,’” Flynn said.

This is one of the issues Gramaglia pointed to with the repeat suspects his officers have been dealing with.

“When you have somebody who is arrested for a violent felony, there is no reason they should be out on the streets of the City of Buffalo,” he said.

Both Gramaglia and Flynn said there was good to come out of bail reform, but some changes need to be looked over again. In April, lawmakers made some revisions as part of the state budget.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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