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Buffalo mayor announces police reforms, seeking immediate change

Byron Brown said he would replace Emergency Response Team duties with a public protection unit that will work with any group that wants to protest.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Backed by a large group of community leaders, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Wednesday afternoon announced a list of police reforms.

"There have been conversations at every level of our community this week, and as mayor, I have tried to listen to every person who wants to be heard," the mayor said at an event that had a long list of guest speakers.

Among the changes he announced:

  • There will be more transparency in the Buffalo Police Department, which will include policies for review of body camera footage;
  • Polices, including the Use of Force Policy, will be prominently posted on the cit and police websites;
  • Incorporate Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion principles will be incorporated into existing community engagement and policing activities, helping the city build a restorative approach to community justice and divert people away from the criminal justice system whenever possible; 
  • Buffalo Police officers will receive training in recognizing explicit bias and deescalating situation
  • The mayor will convene a special commission as recommended by the community, the Buffalo Common Council and former President Barack Obama to examine current procedures to switch to a more restorative approach;
  • Brown also said he would sign an executive order stopping arrests for low-level offenses, along with the reform and restructuring of fines;
  • Brown said he would replace Emergency Response Team duties with a public protection unit that will work with any group that wants to protest.
  • The mayor said he would look into a Duty to Intervene ordinance, which would reflect the Duty to Intervene policy that is already in the Buffalo Police Department’s Use of Force policy;
  • Stop arrests for low-level, non-violent offenses in the City of Buffalo and instead will issue appearance tickets; and
  • Gives the explicit the ban on chokeholds in the Use of Force policy the Mayor previously announced last week the legal force of an executive order.

"This meeting here, it's a start. It's not an end," he said.

Credit: WGRZ

Common Council President Darius Pridgen and Ulysees Wingo on hand, along with the Singing Cops from the Buffalo Police Department, Michael Norwood and Moe Badger, who announced plans for an in-the-works unity walk.

"I challenge Western New York to stand for peace and love," Norwood said. "This walk will potentially be coming over the next couple weeks."

Norwood and Badger, who do a lot of work in the Buffalo community through the Children Overcoming Police Stereotypes Through Sports program, stressed the need for unity throughout Western New York.

"We want to come together for at least one day," Norwood said. "Everybody, for peace and love."

Credit: WGRZ

Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis were also on hand.

"We must look at ourselves in the mirror as public servants and ask, 'Am I doing all that I could for the community?' " Norman said.

Norman and Davis have talked with people nationwide about issues involving race, and Buffalo was the most recent stop.

Norman pleaded for people to "bridge all gaps, all colors, all barriers."

"Things must change. They must change," Norman said. "to blot out all the transgressions of the past, we have an opportunity."

The Free the People coalition of Western New York also attended the news conference, where organizer Mercedes Overstreet spoke.

"We're changing history here, not just for us in this room, but for our children and grandchildren," Overstreet said.

Later, she added: "We need the support of white, black, and brown (people). We need to make sure you're showing up to these town hall meetings."

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