Buffalo Police Funding Trimmed in City Budget

Councilmember Rivera says cuts were decided by administration before unrest.

Tom Puckett
June 05, 2020 - 4:00 am
Virtual Common Council Meeting

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Buffalo Common Councilmembers voted 6-3 to approve a $500 million-plus city budget which includes a $3.6 million reduction in funding to Buffalo Police operations. The move not happy to some community organizers.

Councilmember David Rivera says the decision was made long before the unrest began. "This was the mayor's proposal, to make cuts in not only that department but looking for cuts in other departments. We are operating at a deficit as we speak, and we have to find savings, and there were thoughts of doing across the board cuts," says Rivera, who notes funding has been trimmed for some time. "Over the last four years, we've had a $6.6 million reduction in funding for Buffalo Police operations, so this has been steady."

Rivera says what happened in Minnesota indicates a continuing problem. "There is a race problem against African-Americans within law enforcement. I think it's evident by events we have seen," believes Rivera. "The question is how do we deal with some of those systemic problems of relations between the Buffalo Police and the African-American community, and that has to be done regardless of this budget." Rivera says he'll sit down with community, trying to convince the community to trust the police.

Marielle Smith of Black Love Resists in the Rust was unhappy with the vote. "We were demanding they defund more money from the police. We wanted them to hold off on the vote and vote no," says Smith. 

Smith says there should have been better communication. "I think the Common Council should have made themselves available to the community to go over what the budget is and debunk some of the myths that have been spread about the budget so the community can see where the money can be taken from," says Smith. "I believe they should put more time to talk with the constituents and figure out how they could cut the budget to fit the needs of the consittuents instead of saying they didn't have time. It's kind of deflecting the power they have."

Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo,  Lovejoy representative Bryan Bollman, and University Council Member Rasheed Wyatt voted against the budget, which passed 6-3.

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