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Buffalo mayor's police reforms include replacing ERT, ending arrests for low-level, non-violent offenses

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 23:27:34-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown held a press conference Wednesday to address police reforms that will be put in place in the City of Buffalo.

Mayor Brown was joined by Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, Councilmember Ulysses Wingo, Buffalo's singing cops Moe Badger and Michael Norwood, Josh Norman of the Buffalo Bills, Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints, and members of the Free the People WNY Coalition Dani Johnson, Mercedes Overstreet and Christian Parra.

The mayor said the reforms announced Wednesday are a start, not an end.

Mayor Brown says the reforms are to advance racial equity and strengthen restorative policing in Buffalo. The following are the immediate action steps announced by Brown Wednesday:

  • Increase the level of transparency in the Buffalo Police Department including policies for review of body camera footage;
  • Make policies—including the Use of Force policy—prominently posted on the City and Police Department’s websites;
  • Incorporate Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) principles into existing community engagement and policing activities which will further a restorative approach to community justice and divert people away from the criminal justice system whenever possible;
  • Strengthen existing training programs that enhance officers’ de-escalation skills, incorporating trauma informed policing methods (to be utilized by the Crisis Intervention Team and other officers throughout the Department), and reinforcing implicit bias training;
  • Convene a commission, as recommended by the Common Council and former President Barack Obama, to examine police procedures for the purpose of making recommendations on how they may be amended to reflect restorative policing principles in addition to the work done by the Commission on Citizens’ Rights and Community Relations.

Mayor Brown also announced he will sign an executive order that will:

  • Stop arrests for low-level, non-violent offenses in the City of Buffalo and instead will issue appearance tickets;
  • Add an explicit ban on chokeholds in the Use of Force policy the Mayor previously announced last week by legal force of an Executive Order; and
  • Replace the Emergency Response Team’s crowd control duties with a new Public Protection Unit that will work with, and ensure the safety of, any group that wants to peacefully protest in the City of Buffalo.

The announced reforms come after more than a week of protests in Buffalo following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Buffalo Police Union President John Evans tells 7 Eyewitness News, "While I haven't seen specific details of the reforms, what I have seen will not make the city a safer place for citizens or police officers."