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Law enforcement worry bail reform is causing repeat offenders

“It’s got to be addressed"
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 18:26:02-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The controversial bail reform law is being questions by law enforcement following a police chase in the City of Buffalo

Six Buffalo Police officers are recovering from minor injuries after a late Monday night chase.

The 16-year-old driver involved already had three prior arrests in the last three months for stolen vehicles, and now that’s raising concerns about the bail reform law.

Image from video of car chase with Buffalo Police.

“It’s got to be addressed,” declared Mayor Byron Brown.

Part of the incident involving the 16-year-old driver and Buffalo Police was captured on a surveillance video.

Fortunately, the lieutenant hit by the car door is okay, Nichole Santiago, was not seriously hurt. Police arrested the driver.

But the Buffalo Police union, Police Benevolent Association (PBA) posted a Tweet saying the teen driver had three prior arrests in the last three months for stolen vehicles.

PBA Tweet.

The Tweet also states “This is further evidence of the failure of bail reform and the danger it posses to our officers and to the public."

Buffalo Mayor Brown responding to bail reform concerns.

The controversial state bail reform law eliminates cash bail for those charged with misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.

MAYOR .jpg
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown responding to questions about bail reform.

“There are major concerns about people who have committed crime — who have committed relatively serious crime — that keep getting released from jail,” commented Brown.

Bail reform was created to help eliminate inequity experienced by Black, Brown and the poor who have not committed violent crimes.

“Bail reform is really intended to level the playing field,” replied India Walton, mayoral candidate.

India Walton was a bail reformer organizer. She is now Mayor Brown's democratic primary opponent.

India Walton, mayoral candidate, talking about bail reform in a Zoom interview.

Walton says if the youth was a wealthy person and could afford to post bail for the crime, he would be back out on the streets.

“If a person is that much of a danger to our community — there's still mechanisms where they can be remanded without the use of cash bail,” explained Walton.

“What would that be, so citizens understand that?” Buckley asked.

India Walton, mayoral candidate, in Zoom interview.

“The judge can say that this person is too dangerous to be out until they go to trial and it's up to the discretion of both the prosecutors and the judge to make that decision,” responded Walton.

Mayor Brown says he has heard repeated concerns about bail reform from district attorneys, the police union and police management.

“We’ve heard from the police management that they have locked up people for serious offenses multiply times and due to bail reform they have gotten out multiple times,” noted Brown. “The public needs to be aware of,” remarked Brown. “I have expressed concerns that I have received from my police management about how this system doesn’t always work as it is intended to work.”

Walton says when it comes to teens, these young defendants should be offered support services and someone to make sure they stay on a straight path to keep from re-offending.

“Who was put into his life to keep him on the straight path and prevent him from getting into trouble again,” Walton noted.

Erie County Holding Center inmate.

Walton said she believes right now, they have to “stay the course” on bail reform law.

However, it is strategy the police union says is not always working.