Lovejoy District residents are being credited for their help in a six-month long investigation by Buffalo Police. The investigation culminated in a ten-day raid, a string of arrests, and the seizure of large amounts of drugs and guns.
In a Friday afternoon announcement, Mayor Byron Brown said the message to the criminal element is clear.
“People who are dealing in illegal drugs or any other crime in the city of Buffalo should not feel safe trying to operate anywhere,” said Brown.
Six months ago, Buffalo Police began investigating numerous complaints from the Lovejoy community about drug dealing activity on different streets. The complaints were not specific to any particular area of the Lovejoy district and the investigation did not ultimately target any single group.
Over the past ten days, 25 search warrants were executed resulting in 26 arrests and the seizure of marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and illegal guns. City of Buffalo spokesman Michael DeGeorge said the raids took place in the area between Broadway and William Street and from Bailey Avenue to the city line.
“It’s about the quality of life and making this safe for everyone to live in their neighborhoods and they should not have to be dealing with drug houses on every street,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
Derenda said officials will continue to go after associated landlords in housing court and seek to evict criminal tenants.
Crime has fallen 25% in the city from 2005 to the end of 2014 and, overall, is continuing fall this year, according to Derenda. He said that measure of success is about “getting out there and getting our officers visible. It’s about addressing every issue, small and big.”
Derenda said there is more work to do and that the police will continue to address the public’s concerns. He said other areas will be hit in the coming months and drug dealers should be aware, “if you’re dealing drugs in the City of Buffalo, you’re probably next.”
Lovejoy District Councilman Richard Fontana thanked his residents for sending in their tips and complaints. He said it’s important for the criminal element to realize “there’s no disconnect between the public and the police department in this city. The public has the police department’s ear.” He added elected officials and city police are constantly working together to crack down on neighborhood crime.
Fontana encouraged the public to keep sending in tips, but to do so safely and discretely.
“Don’t get out there and try to jump in front of any cars or take down license plates visibly. Don’t be very visible about it. But get us the information we need,” Fontana said.
Looking to the next step, Fontana said, “I’m hoping that the judges really give it to these people that come in through the system today. I don’t want to see this as a revolving door.”
Fontana said residents often see criminals arrested one day and released the next. He said this time he hopes judges in the criminal justice system take note of the hard work of the police, the mayor, and city residents, and give those arrested the maximum penalty.
Fontana said drug dealers are distributing large amounts of heroin on city streets. Those actions are resulting in the regular use of the overdose antidote Narcan. Fontana said police officers he speaks to are tired of reviving people from heroin overdoses.
“They do it because that’s their oath. They’ll do it because they’re great human beings, but they don’t want to see that every day,” said Fontana.
Fontana noted that one Lovejoy resident was resuscitated more than three times in the last month. Brown said Buffalo Police and Fire Department personnel have revived hundreds of people with Narcan after using some form of heroin.