Brendan Keany

Police Department a No-Show at Tuesday's Common Council Meeting

Councilmen are "disheartened" command staff didn't address staffing changes

January 15, 2019 - 5:01 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - The Buffalo Common Council held a meeting today to discuss the police department's decision to move all detectives to day shift, but nobody from the department showed up to the meeting.

"It's unfortunate that they didn't come today; I think myself and my colleagues said on the floor today that no one is looking to beat them up or attack them, we're just looking for some answers," said Councilman Chris Scanlon, who spoke at a town meeting last week in South Buffalo to address this issue. "We just want them to come and justify why they're trying to implement the changes that they are and explain to us why they think it's beneficial to the City of Buffalo and to the residents of the City of Buffalo. Unfortunately, they weren't here, so we still have a lot of unanswered questions."

Hear more from Scanlon following the meeting below:

The Common Council invited the department to attend the meeting to get out in front of the issue and face the public, especially since this decision has received a ton of backlash from citizens.

Arthur Robinson of the Seneca Babcock Community Block Club says this decision doesn't make sense.

"I've been here 60-some years, and I've seen it good, I've seen it bad, and now I see it good again," said Robinson. "I'd hate to see it go bad again because of a stupid to take police who are needed desperately, especially detectives because they're the ones who secure crime scenes and everything else...Why would you take away people's safety? People are feeling more safe all the time, don't touch that."

The council members are as concerned as the public.

"If it was a budgetary reason, when it comes to public safety, cost is a secondary factor," said Councilman David Franczyk.

Councilman David Rivera used to be a police officer, so he carries a unique and knowledgeable perspective into the discussion.

"Anybody that works in law enforcement will tell you that the solvability is greater if you investigate it right away," said Rivera. "That's why homicides become cold when they go through long periods of time and they're more difficult to solve. The sooner you investigate many of these cases, the solvability factors go up tremendously."

Rivera added that, with all the information the department holds on crime, it's bizarre that they would make a decision like this.

"[The department> has an intelligence unit that provides that information every single month with regards to search warrants, executions, drugs, guns, arrests, homicides - they have all that information at their fingertips," said Rivera "That's why it's so surprising to me that they would even recommend changing the staffing city-wide to not allow detectives to work in the evenings. So, I'd like to ask them 'What are you looking at? What information are you looking at when you make staffing changes like the one you're proposing to make?'''

However, Scanlon noted that the staffing changes haven't taken place yet because the PBA has filed a grievance that won't be resolved until April.

"I know the arbitration regarding the detectives is not going to be decided upon until April, so hopefully between now and then we can have that meeting, and they can come in," he said. "But also, on the side, I think each one of us should be reaching out, I know I will be, reaching out out to the commissioner and trying to get him to come in here and talk about it."

Franczyk said he was candid when speaking with Commissioner Byron Lockwood regarding the arbitration case.

"I told him frankly, I said 'I hope you lose that arbitration, I want to see you lose it,"' he said. "I'm publicly saying I want to see the city lose its arbitration battle with the PBA in this case."

Hear the full discussion in the Common Council below:

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