BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Mayor Byron Brown has already set a reform agenda in motion to end racial injustice and police brutality in the city.
One of the ways he is trying to do that is by easing the tension between the Police Department, and Buffalo’s communities of color.
Mayor Brown’s first chapter in reforming police policy is de-criminalizing low-level crimes such as misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says that could bring down stress levels.
Instead of arresting some accused of a low-level offense, such as shoplifting or petty larceny, the suspect would be issued an appearance ticket and be on their way.
But Flynn points out by law, the suspect does have to be photographed and fingerprinted, which can only be done at the police Central Booking.
An important reason for booking a non-violent suspect after their arrest is to ensure they are not wanted for more serious offenses.
But criminal attorney Barry Covert says, there are many times when there is no one at Central Booking to process a suspect, so it has to be done later anyway.
Covert says by de-criminalizing low level offenses you could be de-criminalizing the offender.