Common Council Members Calling For Police Department Overhaul

July 15, 2010 Updated Jul 15, 2010 at 9:03 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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July 15, 2010 Updated Jul 15, 2010 at 9:03 PM EDT

Just days after some Buffalo Common Council members questioned the nomination of Daniel Derenda to be the city's new police commissioner, lawmakers are calling for the reorganization of the entire police department.

It's been almost 20 years since the Buffalo Police Department has been reorganized and a lot has changed since then. Some council members argue the department needs to seriously take a look at how to best do more with less. Especially since the force is understaffed by about 80 officers.

In a press conference today, councilmember Michael Kearns unveiled a new resolution that would create a new commission to look at reorganizing the police department. Six councilmembers are already on board. The commission would review the overall structure of the police department and make suggestions on how to maximize the use of staff and equipment. The 1991 plan called for switching from precincts to districts. Many argue that change has made the city less safe.

"I do think that the district system of policing has been a failure. I think that police precincts, where you had police officers in the neighborhoods walking the beat, talking to the residents...one of the things I hear all the time from business people is that we never see police officers. It's because they're going from call to call to call," said Kearns.

Kearns is proposing a 12 member commission to conduct the review, with the mayor appointing five members, the commission appointing five members, and the Benevolent Association appointing the other two. The resolution will go before the Common Council for a vote on Tuesday.

Police officers are currently working without a contract. A spokesperson for Mayor Byron Brown's offices tells Eyewitness News, this resolution can not move forward until a contract is approved. The City and the police union are at impasse and preparing for arbitration.