BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — After a week that has seen protests and violence in Buffalo, including injuries to a 75-year-old man who confronted police during a protest in Niagara Square on Thursday night June 4th, the Buffalo Police Advisory Board (BPAB) is calling on the Buffalo Common Council, Mayor Byron Brown, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood to take immediate steps to change policing policies.
Three of the volunteer board members spoke with 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly and explained the steps they want taken in light of multiple incidents. The following is information supplied by the BPAB:
· Create an independent, civilian, investigatory body with independent legal counsel. We believe the membership of this body should be completely independent of political appointments.
· Codify ALL five Use of Force policy amendments we have recommended:
o Require de-escalation prior to use of force,
o Require a warning before shooting,
o Require another present officer to intervene,
o Mandate a comprehensive report of other police officers’ actions or arrests that included use of force and,
o Ban chokeholds or strangle holds.
· Adopt the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in order to assist citizens dealing with mental health, poverty, and substance abuse by preventing arrest and system involvement.
· Adopt the use of “stop tickets” to increase accountability and transparency by providing residents with basic information about the stop, the officer, and the reason for the stop.
"We additionally and urgently call for several New York State policing policy reforms. We support the 12 bill package proposed and endorsed by the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Specifically, we want to highlight the importance of passing Senate Bill 7527 (which would remove limitations on local independent oversight of officer investigation), the Repeal of 50a, and the passage of Senate Bill S6601 (which would require Law Enforcement Officers to call for Medical Care in cases like the one we all witnessed the evening of June 4th)."
The board members said they are concerned because the incident with the elderly man is not the only one they have questions about. "This is only one of several recent incidents involving police violence toward citizens that require careful investigation and suggest need for reform (Quentin Suttles on May 10th, 2020, Shy’Quan Brodie on June 2, 2020, and Miles Carter on June 2, 2020)," said a press release from the BPAB.
Recommendations made by the board are now being forwarded to the Buffalo Common Council for action. The BPAB is an independent advisory committee comprised, currently, of 10 volunteers who offer reports and recommendations to the Buffalo Common Council Police Oversight Committee.
Due to COVID-19, the Common Council does not currently have a meeting scheduled for the Police Oversight Committee. However, the BPAB said they will be working over the next week to have their recommendations considered by lawmakers.