EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (WTEN) — Governor Kathy Hochul held her first meeting of the new Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns at the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) in East Greenbush Wednesday morning.

Law enforcement officials from nine northeastern states were in attendance to tackle the urgent issue of illegal guns, which are contributing to violence and crime in New York and across the region. 

“We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to fight the scourge of illegal guns on our streets,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Too many lives have been lost because of illegal firearms that should never have been on our streets. By convening law enforcement officials from across the region, we can share intelligence and strategies that stem the flow of illegal guns and keep New Yorkers safe.”   

The Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, first announced during Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State address. It is the latest joint effort to bring a unified approach from State and City leaders, including Governor Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, to the crucial issue of public safety. 

The agenda will include setting up the information-sharing consortium and crime analysis centers, as well as ways to share intelligence, tracing tools, strategies and tactics across jurisdictions while partnering with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in each region.  

Representatives from the New York State Police, New York City Police Department (NYPD), the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and law enforcement agencies from New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire, will gather at the first Task Force meeting to coordinate immediate action that will help stop the flow of illegal guns and prevent further gun violence.    

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple has told WTEN on Tuesday he was unsure if his agency is part of this interstate task force. He applauds the idea of this interstate task force, however, he says in order to prevent gun violence, it comes down to changing the state’s current bail reform.

“Legal gun owners are not the ones out there committing the crimes, so by keep pushing gun control — it’s really just affecting legal gun owner, the gang bangers don’t really care what the state passes. So we need to be able to hold these individuals in jail when they get caught with a weapon especially a loaded weapon, we need to hold them to be accountable as opposed to just walk back out.”

During Wednesday’s news conference, the governor was pressed on bail reform “…If reforms are needed, based on data that is still being gathered, I am willing to have those conversations so I don’t feel just because of political reasons want me to give an answer — that’s not how I operate. I don’t cave to pressure. I do what’s right based on what the facts that come before me.”

Governor Hochul’s FY 2023 Executive Budget invests in public safety and efforts to curb the devastating impacts of gun violence. Governor Hochul proposed nearly $9 million in funding for the New York State Police to hire new recruits, gun crime tracing analysts, social media analysts and computer crime experts. Governor Hochul has also pledged nearly $4 million to invest in equipment and software for a computer and cyber crimes unit within the State Police.   

Data already show the ways in which interstate gun trafficking is causing chaos and disorder in New York. According to the New York State Police’s Criminal Gun Clearinghouse, a total of 1,074 illegal guns were recovered last year. Preliminary statistics from NYPD show a total of 4,473 illegal guns were traced from out-of-state sources, with most coming from southern states like Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.