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Buffalo Common Council passes "Cariol's Law"; goes to Mayor's desk for signature or veto

Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 29, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Common Council voted to pass “Cariol’s Law: The Duty to Intervene” Tuesday afternoon.

It states that Buffalo police officers who reasonably believe a colleague is using excessive force have a duty to step in and stop it. An officer who fails to intervene could face criminal charges. The legislation aims to protect intervening officers from unlawful retaliation including termination, denial of benefits, or reassignment.

“We're encouraging and asking for a signature on this law as soon as possible so that no other person who is under police arrest or in custody will suffer while another police officer is standing there,” said Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen.

The 8-1 vote came after nearly an hour in executive session with councilors Chris Scanlon and Joe Golombek emerging in disagreement with the title of the measure.

Golombek eventually decided to vote in favor of what he called the “Duty to Intervene” Law because of the purpose, but Scanlon said he could not vote in favor because of Horne’s name being attached.

The Buffalo Police Department fired Horne in 2008.

She said she was fired after intervening when she says an officer put a man in a chokehold in 2006. She believes she saved that man’s life.

Scanlon said he supports the legislation, and offered “kudos” to Pridgen on the strength of the written law but said he couldn’t shake his disappointment over the name.

“We've decided, as a body, to name this law after a former officer who, in my opinion, has a checkered record to say the least,” he said before recording his ‘no’ vote. “Who, in my opinion, has zero credibility. And who’s, in my opinion, fictitious account of one incident who's merits have been contradicted by a half dozen other officers…an incident which this body is basing its decision to name a law after a former officer… in which she was terminated because, heaven forbid, we not comply with the most loud people on social media and Facebook.”

Horne said the passing of this law doesn’t add up to vindication for her.

“I still don't have my pension, but this will help other officers so they don't have to go through what I've gone through,” she said.

The Justice for Cariol team has proposed the below amendments to the legislation:

• A clause explaining what happens in the intervening 5 years proposed. What does an officer who has violated Cariol’s Law need to do in that time?
• “Objectively reasonable" needs clear definition. We need concrete proof for force to be used. “Meeting force with force” and “imminent danger” must also be closely defined or we will see another hashtag of a senseless police-aided murder.
• Cariol’s Law registry can be created at the local level, with the help of the police union. It is time for them to step in to protect the community, rather than protecting bad policing.
Justice for Cariol

The law now goes to Mayor Byron Brown’s desk for a signature or veto.