Buffalo, NY—Mayor Byron W. Brown and Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen announced the introduction of a Buffalo Police reform package that includes three items for the Council’s consideration. The items to be considered are a contract for the creation of a data center that will track and evaluate police training and practices in the field, the permanent phased-in use of tasers, and a bolawrap pilot program for members of the Police Department’s Behavioral Health Team (BHT).
Mayor Brown said, "These three items represent significant progress for our Police Department. Technology has the potential to make policing safer, more accountable, and more responsive to the needs of the community. That is why I am proud to partner with Council President Pridgen in bringing these additional reforms to our Police Department. In combination with the other steps my Administration has taken as part of the Buffalo Reform Agenda, I am confident that these action items will provide the resources to speed the pace of change that residents expect in reforming police practices.
Council President Pridgen said, "I'm glad to work with the Mayor's office to continue to make strides at reforming how we police here in the City of Buffalo. Since at least 2017, the Common Council has been requesting our officers to be equipped with non-lethal methods so that a gun is not the first option to detain a person. I hope that these purchases and pilot programs will continue the radical shift for policing and that officers and citizens get home safely.”
The contract to create a data analytics center for the Buffalo Police Department by SAS will enable Police management and City policymakers to examine, in almost real-time, the effectiveness of community policing training, new equipment, and new policies to establish best practices for public safety and protection. These services will enable greater transparency, smarter investigations and better decision making processes. A modernized, structured environment for collecting, managing and analyzing data, will ensure that Buffalo is a leader in establishing an Intelligent Smart City for the future.
Patrol Officers in each district will be some of the first members of the Department to USE tasers as the City begins the phase-in of this technology. 85 of the tasers, along with their maintenance and officer training, will be purchased this year. Over the course of this six-year contract with Axon Enterprise, 515 devices will be
purchased and all officers will be trained in the proper use of the devices. The procurement of these devices is critical to giving members of the Police Department additional, non-lethal, options when the need to utilize force is required.
The bolawrap pilot program will enable this technology to be tested by members of the BHT. Officers assigned this device will help determine, over a period of six months, how effective it is in keeping residents and officers safe, how easy it may be to carry, and whether it can be effectively deployed in the field. Wrap Technologies is partnering with the City of Buffalo Police Department and allowing the BHT to run this pilot program at no cost.
All three companies are working with the City to minimize costs and give due consideration to the fiscal challenges Buffalo is currently facing. Access to grant funding, as well as the anticipated federal disaster relief, will help reduce the impact these programs will have on the City's finances. If anticipated revenue is not received Buffalo can end these contracts without financial liability. The improvement in policing and enhancement of public safety, as well as the cost-savings and efficiencies these new technologies will generate, represent a sound investment strategy by the City Administration and Common Council.