"Neighborhood Engagement Team" Newest Initiative to Fight Crime in Buffalo

Community policing initiative hopes to lower crime in Buffalo

Mike Baggerman
June 19, 2018 - 4:57 pm
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Buffalo Police will announce a new, 100-day initiative called "BPD NET" to help battle crime in the City of Buffalo.

BPD NET is short for Buffalo Police Department Neighborhood Engagement Team. Its purpose is to take community police officers and have them engage block clubs, business owners, and homeowners to help bring other resources other than patrol officers into communities.

Crime spiked recently with eight shootings in just under three weeks. There have been a total of 74 shootings this year in Buffalo as of Tuesday afternoon and 20 homicides.

"Whether it's permits and inspections, public works, community (and) citizen services, helping to be that bridge between citizens and all the different agencies that can assist in making their neighborhood and quality of life increase," Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said.

Two officers are assigned in each district as community police officers. Their role is to attend meetings within the communities, whether its business, block club association, monthly district meetings, etc. These interactions are believed to help prevent crime in the community but also encourage people to come forward with information about a crime.

"It's the day-to-day activities absent answering calls for service," Rinaldo said about community police officers. "Commissioner Lockwood's detail NET is a 100-day detail. It was formed approximately two weeks ago. They've been in a series of trainings and we are now at the point that we are hitting the ground running with our initiative."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said strategies and incidents are reviewed weekly by his administration and Buffalo Police.

"There have been a number of arrests with some of these incidents," Mayor Brown said. "We've seen an increased cooperation with the public. The public feels that enough is enough and the public has been really supportive with working with our police department."

In one scenario, two people were arrested with the Jewett Avenue shooting last Thursday afternoon. Of the 20 homicides, four have resulted in arrests.

Brown said there's been an increased police presence because of the warmer weather, especially in areas that have received a spike in crime. He also said that most of the crimes have been the result of low-level gangs and that most of the shootings have been targeted ones.

Rinaldo echoed that the incidents have been mostly gang related.

"Those investigations are long-term investigations and can't happen without the cooperation of the U.S. Attorneys Office and the Erie County DA's office," Rinaldo said. "As we've seen in the past, specifically with the 10th Street Gang from a number of years ago, it was ultimately the Justice Department that assisted BPD. We were able to put the leaders of that gang in jail for, some of them, the rest of their lives."

BPD NET will officially begin on Wednesday.

Correction: Our initial report stated there were 21 homicides in the City of Buffalo in 2018. There have been 20. Our story has been updated to reflect the correct number.

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