City of Buffalo to roll out Phase One of police reform agenda on Wednesday

Jun 22, 2020

Some of the steps toward police and racial equity reform, announced by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown earlier this month, take effect on Wednesday.

Brown announced that Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood had already issued the general order to implement the changes. At the top of the list, police officers will issue appearances for suspects in low-level, non-violent offenses unless mandated by New York State law or if the suspect poses a threat to safety.

Officers conducting traffic stops will be required to be more transparent about their reasoning.

"Anytime a resident is stopped by a police officer, a clear understanding of why they are being stopped and what to expect from that stop will be outlined," Brown said. "Starting Wednesday, police officers will immediately tell individuals why they are being stopped and then issue them a stop receipt. A stop receipt is a written statement by the police officer that explains what the officer observed and prompted them to make a stop. The receipt is then given to the person after the officer explains to the resident why they were pulled over."

In traffic stops involving faulty but correctible equipment on a vehicle, police officers will now issue tickets giving the recipient seven days to repair the equipment, instead of just 24 hours.

Also taking effect Wednesday, the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Police Department websites will be updated to more prominently display body camera, use-of-force and procedure policies, as well as updated new forms. (A direct link to the Reform Agenda may be found here.)

According to Brown, the implementation of Phase One is a step toward addressing systemic racism in the City of Buffalo. He said in addition to the criminal justice system, systemic inequity also exists in the realms of healthcare, banking, hiring, organized labor, education, philanthropy, retail and the media.

"As we make progress in these efforts, my administration will continue to solicit and listen to the voices of our residents and work with our partners to improve the quality of life for our city's Black residents," he said. "This will be an ongoing effort that will require tenacity, open minds and hearts, careful research, honesty, and a great sense of urgency. But it is a task that must be completed during this unique window of opportunity."