Buffalo Police get new weapons, protections to fight crime, stress

Mar 8, 2017

Buffalo Police will be going into harm's way a little better armed and a little better protected, after Tuesday's action by the Common Council.

Many police officers believe they are outgunned on the street. The bad guys have guns more powerful than officers.

The Police union pushed for patrol cars to carry AR-15 rifles and some departments do carry them.

However, the Council voted for a package of changes, including more specialized training and using a $283,000 state grant to buy more protection. The city will purchase 115 rifles chambered for officers' Glock ammunition, as well as 450 very heavy-duty body armor for active shooter incidents, equipment too heavy for daily use.

The Police Department also will be doing special training on the rifles for the command staff who will have them, as well as de-escalation training for officers.

Masten District Councilmember Ulysees Wingo said he is comfortable with the package when bad guys are shooting.

"That target is not considering the police officer's life. That target is not considering the people who are around, maybe in the vicinity, maybe you get hit with a stray bullet," Wingo said. "But we want to make sure that the police officer, after they have executed or tried to implement all manners of de-escalation techniques, have the most accurate piece of equipment as possible."

Council Majority Leader David Rivera, a retired city detective, said members of the public want the de-escalation training in this package of new protections for officers.
  
"Concern about de-escalation is how to calm down a situation, how the police react to a certain situation, how not to use physical force and perhaps not even use your sidearm if you could," Rivera said. "So you develop those skills through the training that Crisis Services provides and Blue Courage."
 

Common Council Majority Leader David Rivera, a retired city police detective, voted in favor of the package of new police protections.
Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

There also will be a special training program to help officers deal with job stresses in healthy ways and teach the value of respect in implementing conflict resolution. The package does not include Tasers and their use, although that is still under consideration.

Mayor Byron Brown said he is glad the Council approved the purchase to help keep the officers and the city safe.

"The best that we will be getting will be even more protective of our police officers and that's what we want to do," Brown said. "We want to make sure that we have the tools, the technologies and the equipment to make sure that our police are safe, that our citizens are safe and that our city is safe."