Volunteer police unit looks to restart operations

Volunteer Police Force Looks To Make Comeback

BUFFALO, NY - A volunteer police organization is taking steps to try to hit the streets again in the City of Buffalo. It has been a decade since the Buffalo Special Police force was in operation. Now, the volunteer group has new leadership and a new mission.

They look like city cops, carrying real handguns and handcuffs. But, they're not paid Buffalo Police Officers, instead they're volunteer officers, that pay for all their equipment.

"If we walk upon something, then we take the information and we immediately give that over to Buffalo PD," said Buffalo Special Police chief Ted Hampton.

The unit of about 12 officers -- is looking to make a comeback, and be approved by the city to provide public safety at public events and respond to emergencies, in their own personal vehicles, if called upon by Buffalo Police.

"Kids out there getting killed, we actually have to step up as fathers," said assistant chief Bobby Lee.

Back in 2004, the unit was in operation. They wouldn't write traffic tickets and wouldn't handle criminal investigations.

"We were just being the eyes and the ears of the Buffalo Police Department," Hampton said.

Officers go through background checks and annual firearm training.

"You have to already have a pistol permit and then you also have to be licensed by New York State as an armed security officer," said Lt. Jim Zsiros of Buffalo Special Police.

But, after a few years, the Buffalo Special Police chief says the agency, because of a lack of funds was unable to maintain an insurance policy, protecting the city from any damages that may be caused by a Buffalo Special Police officer, so the unit broke apart. Hampton says he's been building it back up.

In recent months, Buffalo Special has been holding block parties, talking to residents, and holding summer car washes, raising funds for uniforms and equipment.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and Mayor Byron Brown are aware of the intentions of Buffalo Special Police members, to be present at public events and respond to emergencies if called upon.

"The police department has some concerns about liability," said Mayor Brown.

REPORTER: Could the city use a special unit in this case Buffalo Special Police in addressing crime issues?

"I don't think the special police could address crime issues in Buffalo," Brown said.

REPORTER: This is another free service that could provide community relations to city residents why not embrace that?

"So we have to look at it and we have to consider it we have to look at the proposal," Brown said.

Buffalo Special Police says their members are trained in active shooter situations and some of them are trained on how to use narcan. As for the next steps forward, Mayor Brown says he wants to bring together members of the special police force and Buffalo Police Department to talk about the proposal.


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