As a pair of civil rights organizations prepare to sue the city of Buffalo for information on police checkpoints, Mayor Byron Brown says he "feels very comfortable" with police actions.
A recent Buffalo Police Department report shows checkpoints were held across the city - and police were not targeting the East Side as many residents claim. Brown says there is no data that demonstrates any validity to the complaints.
"We have a system where people can make complaints to the Buffalo Police Department through the Division of Internal Affairs," Brown says. "There are not a preponderance of complaints there. There are not a large number of 311 complaints."
The police report only covers six weeks this past summer. So the Western New York Law Center and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice plan to go to court seeking the release of checkpoint records going back to 2013.
A key issue raised by the civil rights groups is whether police are looking for things like DWI, which the courts allow, or whether they are looking for people who might commit crimes, which is illegal. Brown says the checkpoints are in response to residents concerns throughout the city.
"Data will be released. It will be proven that the city is safer. That crime overall has gone down," he says. "That violent crime has gone down and that the traffic safety concerns that residents are calling about in every single section of the city of Buffalo are being responded to by the Buffalo Police."
Brown says people are concerned about drivers speeding through neighborhoods and running stop signs - and he says the Police Department is responding to those concerns.
Buffalo's Common Council pushed hard for checkpoints information. Council President Darius Pridgen released that six weeks of data and now says he received a call from Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda that same day.
"To say that they have found about six more months worth of data," Pridgen says. "Now, I want to be clear that six months might not be as detailed as this six months because it was before the Council actually said we want to see these things, but if they can at least give us locations of those six months, we would be able to see and if those checkpoints were historically in one district, then we cross that road when we get to it."
Pridgen says the push for data is about accountability and transparency for police.
"I don't know what the six months before are going to show, but what I am grateful for is that the commissioner called me - I didn't call the commissioner - to say we found six more months," Pridgen says. "He did not realize that one of his deputy commissioners had started having the lieutenants sign off on the checkpoints and once he found that out, he came came right forth and said, 'Here it is.'"
Pridgen is planning discussion of the checkpoints issue in televised committee sessions, like Police Oversight, so citizens can watch the discussion.