Phase I of City of Buffalo police reform agenda takes effect Wednesday


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mayor Byron Brown says Phase I of the city’s police reform agenda will take effect on Wednesday.

“Black people have waited long enough for change,” the mayor said at a press conference Monday. “Delaying action is only delaying racial justice.”

Phase I has several components. Starting Wednesday, Buffalo Police will issue a “stop receipt,” telling those who are stopped by police why the officer initiated the stop. Officers will also complete a form indicating that reason and the alleged violation, which is then provided to the driver of the vehicle, onsite.

People will also be issued “Fix-It Tickets” for correctable equipment violations, and have seven days to repair a vehicle malfunction before receiving a penalty, rather than the 24 hours provided by New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

“It will give them the opportunity to cure any equipment violations on their vehicles that they might be stopped for,” Brown said.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood issued an order Monday, directing officers to issue appearance tickets for low-level offenses instead of handcuffing and transporting suspects unless state law mandates an arrest or the individual presents a danger. The order breaks down which offenses require a custodial arrest, which require the suspect to be transported to central booking to be issued an appearance ticket, and which allow for the suspect to be issued an appearance ticket on the spot.

City officials estimate the new policy will lead to a 36 percent drop in custodial arrests.

“There will be significant guidance provided to our police officers. Orders will be issued by the police commissioner,” Brown said, pointing to the order that Lockwood issued Monday.

Kristin Russo, 1st Vice President for the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said the union didn’t receive Lockwood’s order until mid-day Monday. She was still studying it through the afternoon.

“That press conference went out his morning. It gave a general order number. When we tried to look it up on our computer at work, it wasn’t even issued yet,” Russo said. “As of 11:42 this morning, we still had not had anything.”

“Decisions are based on knowledge and confidence,” she added. “If you don’t have a combination of that somewhere in your mindset, it’s dangerous.”

Management of the Buffalo Police Department also created a new link to the Buffalo Reform Agenda on the city’s web pages to display the body camera, use of force, and manual of procedures policies.

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