Local leaders and mayoral candidate react to suggested ‘Citizens Police Oversight Board’ in Buffalo

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — For the past three years, Buffalo has had a Police Advisory Board, but now there are calls to create a citizens panel with more power than before.

Buffalo Mayoral Candidate India Walton says now that the New York State Attorney General is calling for the same thing, it’s time for Buffalo lawmakers to implement a citizens police oversight board that would actually have subpoena power.

“Now is the time. We can’t wait any longer,” said Walton. “We have seen all over the country that we cannot depend on Police to investigate police.”

She has the support of Martin Gugino who was pushed by Buffalo Police during a protest last year.

“There are two ways to get law and order. One is to send in the police and the other is to change your policies,” Gugino said.

Buffalo Police officers already fall under the scrutiny of police internal affairs, the FBI, the state attorney general’s office, and the district attorney but Walton said this panel would be different.

“The original intent of the Police Advisory Board is exactly what our attorney general is compelling the mayor to do today. To create an independent oversight board, not people appointed by the mayor but actually subject matter expert’s who have subpoena power who can recommend disciplinary action when it comes to Buffalo police officers — so we never have another Martin Gugino,” added Walton.

President of the Buffalo Police benevolent Association, John Evans has a different take.

“We don’t believe it’s needed or necessary,” Evans told us.

“There is accountability. Police officers, nobody’s getting away with anything so, I’m a little perplexed. I don’t know where their angle is coming from.”

Mayor Byron Brown says he is open to the idea but originally thought that it could be blocked by the Taylor law or collective bargaining.

“What we wanted to do was submit things to Albany that we could implement right away,” Mayor Brown added.

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.

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