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Officers Ready for New Challenge

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Police at Buffalo's B-district begin day two of one-officer patrol cars Thursday. They are the first to begin the historic change.

Eleven police vehicles headed onto Main Street for duty Wednesday morning from the B-District station downtown. But it was not a routine shift change for cops.

For the first time, officers got into their cruisers alone.

The change is part of the union's contract agreement with the City.

The deal guarantees retro-active pay and raises, but is expected to save the city of Buffalo money over the life of the contract.

B-district police were the first to complete training. Officer Pam Mayer waited alone in a vehicle to begin her patrol. Mayer said she realizes there is an added danger.

"Well of course I'm concerned," said Mayer. "It's a big change, but I think we can do the job effectively and safety."

Mayer said she has been trained to work without a partner by her side.

"We are all trained and most of us have been on the job for many years. It is just doing a couple of thinks a little bit differently without someone watching your back and being there," said Mayer.

Buffalo Police Chief James Giammeresi said officers have been specifically instructed on how to handle calls alone.

"With the training, we covered car stops, how to answer a call by themselves, back up systems an how they will work. We also explained how the communications system will change," said Giammeresi.

"And we trained 911 operators and dispatchers. It is a team effort and I think through the training, everyone should be okay."

Police at the city's D-District on Hertel Avenue are almost finished with their training. Mayor Anthony Masiello said the change should be fully implemented at all districts by the end of the year.

Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President Robert Meegan did not return calls for comment, but in a past interview, Meegan said union members expect the city to abide the contract and make sure officers would be fairly compensated for the added dangers of one officer patrols.