BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– Children pick up so much from watching their parents. But when a parent gets arrested, it can leave a lasting trauma for that child.
Former US attorney Dennis O’Donnell will be coordinating a new program that will put every Buffalo Police officer through five hours of special training this summer to help them reduce the trauma that a child suffers when a parent is arrested.
“Making the arrest outside the presence of the children, not putting handcuffs on the parent when the child was there and all of these depend on situations where that could be done safely,” said Osborne Association Senior Advisor Denise O’Donnell.
Buffalo Police Department Deputy Commissioner Barbara Lark told us, “We’ve always done this. We just haven’t done it as formally as we’re going to be doing this.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Barbara Lark shared her own story from working the streets here on the East Side. She came across a three-year-old boy who went out of his way to tell her he doesn’t like police. It turns out, the boy saw his father get arrested.
“And I went to my car and got police stickers and coloring books and I just refused to leave that situation like that because it just bothered me so much that this kid felt that way about police. So when I gave him the coloring books and the stickers and I talk to him a little while, when I left he had a different attitude and a different opinion about police,” Lark said.
The program is paid for with over $100,000 from AT&T and almost a quarter million dollars from Local foundations through the WNY COVID Community Response Fund.
“We know at this time these kids are experiencing as much trauma as anyone in our city. So it’s an opportunity for the funders to correct a long-standing issue in our community that has just been exacerbated during this difficult time,” O’Donnell shared.
George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.