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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: September 18, 2020

Mayor Byron W. Brown Announces Commission To Recommend Police Policy & Advance Social Reconstruction

Seal of the City of Buffalo

Buffalo, NY—Mayor Byron W. Brown announced the members of his Commission to Recommend Police Policy and Advance Social Reconstruction and presented them with a mandate to identify ways policing can be improved, especially in the Black community, and develop a strategy to improve the quality of life of Black and Brown residents who have historically faced race-based barriers to social and economic advancement.

Mayor Brown said, “The Reconstruction era in American history, which only lasted from 1866 to 1876, is often taught as just a period of distrust and oppression. In fact, it was also a time of social, political, and economic progress for Black Americans across the South who stood up against the attempts to terrorize them by former Confederates. The greatest tragedy of Reconstruction is that it ended before those gains could be solidified and were harshly snatched away by Jim Crow laws that wiped out Black advancements. This commission

aims to recapture that spirit of achievement by sparking a new era of Reconstruction and dismantle the systemic racism has led to legal, social and economic race-based barriers that have existed for too long in our community and country and held back Black and Brown residents from having a life free from fear, open to opportunity, and rooted in equal justice. That is why we, through this Commission, must boldly and honestly address both the policing and social constructs that impact our City and be willing to make the changes needed to secure the equality and dignity that Black people deserve as residents of Buffalo, as Americans, and as human beings.”

The Commission’s members, which represent a diverse set of leaders in the areas of civil rights, social justice activism, law enforcement, community services, labor, higher education and city government, are:

  • Leslie Bishop, Citizen Action of New York
  • Angela Blue, NAACP and Western New York Area Labor Federation
  • Lucy Candelario, The Belle Community Center
  • Michael McCabe, former Assistant U.S. Attorney
  • Elton Mitchell, retired New York State Police trooper
  • Christian Parra, Free the People WNY Coalition
  • Brian Patterson, Clinical Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Medaille College and retired Buffalo Police Department Chief
  • Rev. Rachelle Robinson, The Concerned Clergy Coalition of WNY
  • John Torrey, Ph.D., Professor at Buffalo State College
  • Councilmember David Rivera, Common Council Appointee
  • Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski, Common Council Appointee
  • Shatorah Donovan, ex-officio member, City of Buffalo Chief Diversity Officer

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said, “I’m glad to hear of the formation of this commission to look at Buffalo Police policies. This is one of the first items the Common Council requested to move towards police reform in our City. My hope is that they will thoughtfully and deliberately conduct a thorough review of the Buffalo Police Department’s policies and then propose such revisions that will create a radical shift in policing throughout the City of Buffalo.”

The Commission’s mandate, as outlined by the Mayor, is to honestly and directly examine current police practices and then recommend additional policies the Police Department can implement. That review will have a special focus on the training of new police officers, training veteran officers should receive, and policies that complement the work of the Buffalo Reform Agenda and other Administration Police reform initiatives like BPD 21C, which led to the greater diversification of the Buffalo Police Department, and the practices and policies that were put in place as part of the City Police Department’s efforts to become the largest police force in Western New York accredited by New York State. In addition to making recommendations to improve the quality of policing in Buffalo, the Commission will also be charged with developing and recommending other policies and action steps the City can take across all of its Departments to create opportunities for

Black and Brown residents, improve the delivery of City services in high-need communities of color, and help eliminate economic inequality.

The Commission will have 60-days to generate a report and present it to the Mayor. In undertaking this work, the Commissioners will consult with leading experts in the relevant fields, members of the public, policymakers, and City leaders. The formation of this Commission was one of the reforms the Mayor announced when he first outlined the Buffalo Reform Agenda. A full list of those initiatives can be found on the City of Buffalo’s website: buffalony.gov.

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