BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– The City of Buffalo is experiencing a violent start to 2021. Both shootings and homicides are up well beyond from last January. But, overall major crimes are down.
“There’s no detriment there’s no consequence to these actions,” said John Evans.
Buffalo police union President John Evans says the department is struggling to address shootings in the city.
“Without any consequences, I don’t see any end in sight,” added Evans.
Evans says the governor’s bail reform laws are handcuffing officers’ efforts on the streets. Those laws, which went into effect last year, prohibit criminal courts from setting cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
And that has a domino effect on violent crimes, according to Evans.
But while Evans points to shootings and homicides as a reason for change, overall violent crimes are down in Buffalo.
The below graphic shows homicides are up more than 67 percent compared to this time last year.
But the numbers for all other violent crimes, like rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary are significantly down in some cases.
And that’s despite challenges law enforcement faces because of covid restrictions, according to Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo.
Rinaldo says the pandemic has greatly impacted the department’s abilities in community policing and preventative crime-solving.
“We still have multiple COVID restrictions that seriously limit our ability to get out, engage in the community and help to get in front of this violence before it occurs.”Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo
Evans also says Mayor Byron Brown’s stop ticket initiative is hindering efforts, rather than helping. The program launched last June is intended to increase accountability and transparency in the city’s largest department.
Evans told us, “The mayor’s reforms are all directed at the police. The police aren’t the problem here. The police aren’t doing these random shootings and murders. It’s the criminal element of society and I think that has to be addressed.”
Rinaldo says the stop ticket program does add another level of process to policing. But the information gathering has not changed.
“The information that’s being provided is information that was always collected, just not handed out at the time of the stop,” Rinaldo said.
Dave Greber is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.