BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Phase One of Mayor Brown's proposed police reforms are set to begin today.
“The time for reform is now,” declared Mayor Brown during a news conference in the lobby of his City Hall office on Monday.
The mayor says this will advance "racial equity" and “strengthens its ties to the community.”
"Black people have waited long enough for change and delaying action is only delaying racial justice," said Mayor Brown.
Brown said the reforms will help keep residents safer and provide more transparency in their interactions with the Buffalo Police Department.
Starting Wednesday, if a person is pulled over in the city by a Buffalo police, the officer will provide a reason for why they are being stopped and what to expect.
A "stop receipt" will be issued at all traffic stops. The city says that means when a police officer approaches a stopped vehicle, the officer "must immediately tell the resident a reason for the stop".
"A stop receipt is a written statement by the police office that explains what the officer observed and prompted them to make a stop," Mayor Brown said.
An appearance ticket will also be issued for low-level offenses without handcuffing or transporting suspects, unless New York State law mandates the person be taken into physical custody.
"The appearance tickets are arrests with no handcuffs," explained Brown. "But the police will explain to an individual that they will have to appear on their own recognizance at some time. They will get an appearance ticket and they will be allowed to go on their way."
"This is an entirely new practice and process in the city of Buffalo," Mayor Brown remarked.
The first reform actions being implemented by the City this week include:
• Buffalo Police officers are directed to issue appearance tickets instead of handcuffing and transporting suspects for low-level offenses unless New York State law mandates an arrest or the individuals present a danger to themselves or others. Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood today issued General Order #2020-009 to officially implement the reforms.
• Stop receipts will be issued at all traffic stops. This means that a police officer who approaches a stopped vehicle, must immediately tell the resident a reason for the stop and complete a form indicating that reason and the alleged violation observed which is then provided to the driver of the vehicle, onsite.
• Tickets issued for correctable equipment violations or “Fix-It Tickets” issued by the Buffalo Police Department will have a correction period of seven days, instead of the 24 hours provided by New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, for the motorist to repair the condition and avoid any penalties or fines. • Buffalo Police Department Management created a new link to the Buffalo Reform Agenda on their and the City’s web pages to prominently display the Body Camera, Use of Force and Manual of Procedure policies, as well as the latest version of new forms, and the Police Commissioner’s general orders on all current updates to policing in the City of Buffalo. These web updates may be found at: www.buffalony.gov/reformagenda.
"It will give people a clearly defined reason why the officer initiated the stop," Mayor Brown explained.
The leader of the Buffalo police union was not available for comment when we reached out to them on Monday.
But 7 Eyewitness News reached a member of the Buffalo Police Advisory Board which is working toward reforms.
"The mayor has certainly showed his interest in taking some steps -and we do support that," remarked Erin Carman, co-chair, Buffalo Police Advisory Board.
Carman said they're pleased with this first reform, but are looking for additional steps, including new oversight of the police department, expansion of the current advisory board and changes to 'use of force'.
"We think there are very specific policy components within the current BPD policy that still need reform," said Carman.
Other community members are calling for a database that would reveal police brutality by police.
We asked the mayor if that's would part of future reforms.
"Everything is on the table. We are listening to everything, but everything proposed isn't necessarily good for the safety of this community," responded Mayor Brown.