July 6 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Tuesday declaring gun violence in the state a Disaster Emergency.
Cuomo announced the order amid a surge in gun violence dating back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and said the state would fund programs to combat gun violence as well as create government programs to track statistics surrounding shootings and gun trafficking.
"Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence," Cuomo said.
Under the declaration, the state will invest $138.7 million in intervention programs that engage at-risk youth in summer job opportunities and community activity programs and hospital-based programs that provide outreach to shooting victims.
A new State Police Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit will focus on stopping illegal guns from entering New York through states with less restrictive gun safety laws.
Cuomo's order also requires the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to compile weekly incident-level data on gun violence and share it with the state, the data will then be used by the new Office of Gun Violence Prevention to track emerging gun violence hotspots.
Further, the order creates a partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice aimed at strengthening police and community relations.
"It is a matter of saving lives and New York's future depends on it," Cuomo said at a news conference announcing the order. "People are not coming back to this city, they're not coming back to any city, until they know they are safe."