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Questions linger over multi-million dollar Buffalo police data analytics proposal

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Posted at 7:23 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 19:23:16-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A multi-million dollar funding request has landed with Buffalo’s common council.

The police department is seeking to enter into a contract with SAS Data Management systems to analyze the newly announced police reforms out of Mayor Byron Brown’s administration.

It would pay the private firm $1.3 million in the first year, $800,000 in year two, and $500,000 in the third year to look at data submitted by the city and give back predictive policing methods using an algorithm.

There is a clause that allows the city to back out of the contract if federal funds don’t help cover the costs.

“Instead of data being collected and being made public and the public being able to analyze the data and say this is not right you should do this differently that’s all being done by this private company with an algorithm that’s protected by intellectual property rights,” said Colleen Kristich of the Partnership for The Public Good.

Mayor Brown did not get into specifics of what kind of data would be sent to the firm.

“We will collect data from A through Z as it relates to our police reforms that we have implemented in the City of Buffalo.”

The PPG is concerned that data is being sent to a private firm using public funds before it’s even being released to the public in this community.

“We want to be very sure beforehand that residents and citizen groups like the advisory body will be able to access the results of it,” said PPG Executive Director Andrea Ó Súilleabháin.

A representative from the Buffalo Police Department was unable to speak with 7 Eyewitness News regarding specifics of how the partnership might work.

The 26-page contract proposal is now with the common council finance committee for review.