Cariol Horne watches the clock tick away on her police pension

Jun 9, 2021

Cariol Horne's pension quest moved forward a little Tuesday, with a vote by the Buffalo Common Council.

Horne was tossed out of the Buffalo Police just before accumulating the 20 years needed for a pension. She maintains she was fired after trying to stop another officer from attacking a handcuffed prisoner. That other officer, Greg Kwiatkowski, eventually went to jail for attacking a group of Black youth.

Since then, Horne has been on a crusade to reform Buffalo Police culture. It has led to a city ordinance requiring an officer to intervene in situations like hers. This duty to intervene was approved by councilmembers as Cariol's Law.

On Tuesday, members passed a Home Rule Message asking the state legislature to restore her pension. There currently are bills in committees of both the Assembly and state Senate that would make it law. A bill can't come out of committee without that support and with the legislative session near its end, time is of the essence to get a bill passed this session.

Council Majority Leader and retired cop David Rivera said he backs state legislation giving Horne her pension.

"I supported her being made whole way back, before the decision came down, and I'm glad the decision came down in her favor. It's unfortunate she had to go through all those years of having to live and survive without a pension, like everybody else," Rivera said. "So I'm happy to see it. I hope she's made completely whole."

Councilmember Ulysees Wingo said it is justice.

"It's unfortunate that she had to endure this hardship, but it's fortunate for everyone behind her," Wingo said. "So now, if these things should ever happen again, there's going to be something in place that would ensure justice comes to folks behind her. So I'm happy for her today. I'm happy for her should the state Assembly and Senate pass this for us and ensure that she gets her pension."

"My fingers are crossed. My prayers are there. We don't know what's going to happen on the other side, but at least this Council is going on record to support that and send the Home Rule Message." said Council President Darius Pridgen.

State Supreme Court Justice Dennis Ward ruled the city should act as if Horne had served that full 20 years.