Buffalo, NY - The President of the Buffalo Common Council wants to reinstate the Police Oversight Committee.
This news comes just days after two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay after an incident at Molly's pub, and weeks after another officer was caught on tape kicking and slapping a suspect.
"Many of the crimes that are solved in the City of Buffalo are solved because citizens come forward. If those citizens no longer trust our police department, it will be chaos in Buffalo," says Darius Pridgen.
Pridgen, the Common Council President, says his goal in reinstating the Police Oversight Committee is not to watch over the day-to-day operations of the police department. Instead, he says it is about building trust and being on the same page.
"There seems to be discrepancies in the rules from the SLA, and the rules of the police and what our local ordinances say, especially when it comes to police officers working after hours. That needs to be worked out," he says.
Pridgen also says it is important for both the public and police to know what is legal when it comes to use of force.
Mayor Byron Brown declined our request to speak with us on-camera when we caught up with him Thursday night. But he did tell us off-camera that he wants to learn more about Pridgen's goals.
The mayor says the city has taken swift action in these cases, and Pridgen agrees.
"I think that the administration acted very quickly. First, putting officers on leave and then within days coming back and taking away their pay," he says. "I don't want to see the City of Buffalo turn into a third world country where people are afraid of the police department. I want Buffalo to be a city where people will say, you know what, the police department is here to serve and protect us citizens, and when they don't, there is someone that is going to call them to the table."
There is a Police Oversight Committee right now, but Pridgen says it's been dormant for many years. Tuesday, he is going to ask for at least four councilmembers to volunteer, then he will appoint a chair.