BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Common Council accepted a report from the city’s police department on Tuesday, regarding traffic safety checkpoints which some civil rights advocates have claimed unfairly target minority neighborhoods.
As we reported last week, the select data released would seem to dispel that.
But it's only a snapshot...and so far we have been unsuccessful in prying more information from Buffalo Police.
Mayor Byron Brown insists the checkpoints are purely about public safety and keeping the streets safe from motorists who speed, or run red lights and stop signs.
At the same time, however, they have resulted in thousands of tickets issued and cars towed for traffic and motor vehicle law violations, as well as arrests made for everything from unlicensed drivers to drugs and guns found in vehicles.
Brown also refutes those who have made claims the checkpoints unfairly target minority communities.
“This is absolutely not the case,” Brown told WGRZ-TV on Tuesday.
“The data the police department has released to the city council demonstrates that,” Brown said.
Indeed the data released (which reflects a recent seven week period ending on September 20) indicates the 121 checkpoints conducted were set up throughout the city, with close to half of them being in the Lovejoy, North, and Niagara council districts.
However, some remain skeptical because there is no data reflecting what occurred prior to August 4, after some- including the media-began asking for data.
“There is no data that demonstrates that there is any validity to the complaints,” Brown insisted.
At least not any data that's been made public.
That's why on July 29 we filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law asking for data stretching back more than a year, to July 1, 2016.
The request for the data not only remains unfilled, but Buffalo police have yet to even formally acknowledge the request for information. That appears to be a violation of the Freedom of Information Law, which requires that the agency acknowledge the request within five business days.
And we're not the only ones seeking the information.
The Western New York Law Center and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice say they're going to court in an attempt to have a judge enforce their Freedom of Information Law request , which they filed a month before ours, also to no avail.
Meanwhile, Mayor Brown claims feedback from a majority of the public has been positive, regarding the traffic safety checkpoints.
"The majority of the calls we have gotten from residents of the City of Buffalo isn’t to complain about traffic safety checkpoints, it's to ask for more of them," Brown said.