Attorney General Andrew Cuomo And Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark Team Up To Prosecute Buffalo Homicides

BUFFALO, NY (January 30, 2007) — Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a groundbreaking partnership with Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark to prosecute Buffalo homicides. Under the agreement, Attorney General Cuomo will assign three Assistant Attorneys General to work in the Erie County District Attorney’s homicide bureau under the direction of District Attorney Clark. This cross-designation comes following a spike in homicides in 2006 as Erie County cut funding for the District Attorney’s office.

Currently, there are only three Assistant District Attorney’s in Erie County assigned to the homicide bureau. Attorney General Cuomo’s cross-designation will thus double the number of Erie County prosecutors on homicide cases. The three Assistant Attorneys General being cross-designated all have prior experience working as Assistant District Attorneys in Erie County.

Attorney General Cuomo said, “During the campaign, I pledged to offer assistance to New York counties struggling with the twin threats of gangs and drugs.  Last year, Buffalo experienced an unexpected spike in homicides, partly due to gang activity, and this resulted in an unanticipated strain on the financial resources of the District Attorney’s office. This historic agreement will relieve some of that stress, and result in faster disposition of a homicide caseload that might otherwise swamp the District Attorney’s office.”

District Attorney Clark said, “I greatly appreciate the Attorney General’s assistance to us in reducing our backlog of cases, some of which are cold and others which are six months to three years old.  It comes at a particularly opportune time for us since other pressing matters are now taxing our resources to the maximum.”

Cuomo also praised Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown for his commitment to a comprehensive anti-crime program that includes a gun buyback program to get illegal weapons off the street, surveillance cameras installed at city crime hot spots, and a permanent Mobile Response Unit to clamp down on serious crimes and gang activity.  On January 7th Attorney General Cuomo met in Buffalo with Mayor Brown, Police Commissioner Gipson and senior staff to identify opportunities for sharing resources in assisting the City of Buffalo in its law enforcement efforts.

“The Commitment of these resources by Attorney General Cuomo reinforces his strong interest in providing assistance to the City of Buffalo in the areas of law enforcement and criminal justice,” said Mayor Brown. “My administration will continue to utilize every resource available to ensure the quality of life of our residents and I look forward to working further with Attorney General Cuomo in achieving that goal.”

In 2006, Buffalo recorded 73 homicides as compared with 56 homicides in 2005. Although this is well below the city’s record high of 92 homicides in 1994, the spike has drawn significant concern and stretched the resources of the Erie County District Attorney’s office. This problem was exacerbated by county funding cuts to the DA’s office.