BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police proposed changes to state criminal justice laws.Their plans include changes to bail, criminal discovery, juvenile justice, and appearance tickets. Deputy Commissioner of Buffalo Police Joseph Gramaglia said reform is needed, but law enforcement should be involved.
“The good people that want to live, work, play in the city in communities need to feel safe,” Gramaglia said. “Talk to the people who are involved in the day-to-day operations of keeping our community safe.”
Gramaglia said eliminating cash bail will be the biggest change.
“It’s not fair to certain people who were becoming a victim of circumstance because they couldn’t afford their way out of jail,” Gramaglia said.
That proposal has support among some local community leaders.
“Not only does it disproportionately impact lower income communities but also black and brown communities as well,” Director of Policy Advancement at the partnership for the Public Good Tanvier Peart said.
But Tanvier Peart from the Partnership for The Public Good thinks more money should go to mental health services and pre-arrest diversion programs.
“You put your money where your heart is,” Peart said. “And so New York state’s investment in the incarceration system outpaces funding for community based services.”
“You can keep a strong police presence but then you can also fund programs for mental health, for youth sports activities,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said.
According to the FBI yearly report on crime, violent crime increased in buffalo and across the country last year.
“Can I put that all on bail reform? No, I’m not going to do that,” Flynn said. “But do I think it’s a factor? Absolutely.”
“Though there was an uptick in crime I the U.S. last year, the increase is not exclusive to jurisdictions that enacted bail reform measures,” Peart said.
The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said they hope lawmakers get moving on these proposed changes soon. And Gramaglia said change is overdue.
“We don’t need to wait any longer,” Gramaglia said. “Across our communities, across the state we have a gun problem.”