Are Buffalo Police checkpoints carried out equitably across the city?

Jul 31, 2017

Common Council President Darius Pridgen says the Buffalo Police Department is required to provide quarterly and yearly data about their checkpoints held around the city, but has not provided that data.

To help ensure the Council receives regular reports on where the checkpoints were located, how many tickets were issued, what was found and the like, lawmakers made a formal request to Buffalo Police. Pridgen says he is not against the checkpoints themselves.

"The Police Department is to submit a full report to this Council and I think that needs to occur because then there's transparency," he says. "My goal in this is not to bang on the Police Department, it is to build trust, because where's no information often there is misinformation, so we have to have the facts."

Masten District representative Ulysees Wingo agrees about the usefulness of police checkpoints, but says the key word is "equity" around the city.

"I do believe they serve a great purpose as in finding illegal guns that are on the streets," Wingo says, "but as far as the concentration of police checkpoints in certain areas of the city - people being ticketed for non-criminal offenses: taillight being out or registration expired, things of that nature that they typically would not have gotten pulled over for."

Lovejoy District representative Richard Fontana also called for the data to include information about vehicles towed at checkpoints.

"I had a resident one time that was unable to produce his license - left at home - so instead of letting the wife drive, they towed the vehicle on him and he has it all on video," Fontana says. "I saw the whole video. I couldn't believe that they made the wife not drive."

Fontana says he also asked another officer if it is illegal to drive without a license.

"He said that car should not have been towed," Fontana says. "So sometimes people's cars are towed at these checkpoints and there's quite a bit of expense and trouble to get it back."

City Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate Mark Schroeder told a recent political forum there were 60 police checkpoints in Buffalo last year, 52 of which were on the city's East Side.