|Date:||March 25, 2021|
The City of Buffalo has the opportunity to be a leader in addressing police violence and justice system disparities if it dares to do so. We call on the City to continue the change process in the months ahead, despite New York State’s April 1 deadline to adopt police reforms and to advance the systemic reforms proposed by our community-based partners.
This week, Mayor Brown's Commission on Police Reform and Social Reconstruction released its policing recommendations for public comment.
It is exciting to see the inclusion of LEAD, a pre-arrest diversion program that residents and health agencies have worked for years to bring to Buffalo. Other badly needed reforms in the resolution include performance reviews for police officers and increased public input in Buffalo police union negotiations. At the same time, many of these recommendations do not go far enough to protect communities most harmed by the systems in place.
We amplify calls to reimagine policing across Buffalo. Four of this year's Community Agenda planks from our partners highlight ways to transition punitive policing from being the first response to the last resort:
In Plank 1 - Remove Police From Frontline Response to Mental Health Crises - our partners affirm that mental health emergencies should be handled by trained mental health professionals, not insufficiently trained police. A shift in the manner of response will reduce the risk of harm to residents with mental health challenges.
In Plank 5 - Implement a New Police Oversight Model - our partners call on Buffalo Common Council to overhaul police oversight following the proposal made by the Buffalo Police Advisory Board in their Spring 2020 report. This proposal would create two oversight bodies with stronger powers to hold hearings on police misconduct and police budgets, receive and review complaints, investigate complaints with subpoena power, and require annual reports from the Police Commissioner.
In Plank 9 - Stop the Practice of Stationing Off-Duty Police Officers in Buffalo Public Schools - our partners call to remove off-duty police from public schools, to reduce the criminalization of Black children and advance racial justice. Just last month, BPS Superintendent Cash announced this change. Our partners wish to extend the removal of police from our schools, replacing them with counselors and restorative approaches, rather than continue the police presence - as the reform resolution includes.
In Plank 10 - Invest in Just Streets, Not Enforcement - our partners advocate for using design and traffic calming infrastructure (instead of surveillance and police) to keep streets safe. Invest in unarmed, non-police traffic safety jobs for Buffalo residents in under-served communities.
At a time when many are looking for transformational change, reforms that keep police in schools and take incremental steps to create law enforcement accountability barely move the needle. The City of Buffalo has the opportunity to be a leader in addressing police violence and justice system disparities if it dares to do so. We call on the City to continue the change process in the months ahead, despite New York State's April 1 deadline to adopt police reforms and to advance the systemic reforms proposed by our community-based partners.
Please take a moment to submit a comment by email or voicemail to:
The deadline to submit a comment is tomorrow, March 26 at 11 a.m.!