MOUNT VERNON - An anti-gun program held its first formal meeting in Mount Vernon Wednesday night to work to curb street violence.
Operation SNUG, which is "guns" spelled backward, held its first meet-and-greet session with about a dozen teens at a local community center. The operation is kicking off in Mount Vernon with the help of a $275,000 grant from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Outreach workers for the program were once involved in violence and crime, but turned their lives around and want to give back to the community. Along with the weekly sessions with teens, the workers go into the streets every day to meet young people involved in crime face-to-face.
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In the month of June alone, the city saw several incidents involving guns on the streets. Four people were arrested for possessing an AK-47, a handgun and drugs at a home on South 12th Avenue. A week earlier, residents on Putnam Street were shaken after gunshots rang out.
The outreach workers with the program say the violence has gotten worse since they were teens. They say a big difference now is the lack of respect for elders.
Operation SNUG started out in Chicago more than a decade ago. It was first introduced to Westchester in Yonkers in 2010.