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WBFO analyzed three years of traffic stop receipts issued by the Buffalo Police Department and found that Black drivers are over 3x more likely to be pulled over compared to white drivers. Despite making up just a third of the population of the city, over half of the stop receipts in the dataset were issued to Black drivers. In 22% of cases, officers are not properly recording the race of those they stop, as required by the city’s Right to Know Law. This series includes the original and follow-up reporting from that story.

Traffic stops: WBFO's 'alarming' findings to be discussed by the Police Oversight Committee

The inside of the Buffalo Common Council chambers is shown in a wide angle. The seating area of the auditorium is brown wood, with people seated facing the front where the chair person is sat facing outward. Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski stands at a brown lectern at the front of the chambers facing outward. He is wearing a dark suit with a blue tie.
Holly Kirkpatrick
The Buffalo Common Council chambers.

A WBFO analysis of traffic stop receipts issued by the Buffalo Police Department is to be discussed by Buffalo Common Council’s Police Oversight Committee.

WBFO analyzed three years’ worth of traffic stop receipt data recorded by the Buffalo Police, and found that Black people are 3.1x more likely to be stopped than white people in the city of Buffalo, according to the dataset.

The analysis garnered a number of further findings, which are listed in the full story.

Fillmore District Councilmember, Mitch Nowakowski, filed WBFO’s story with the Common Council, where it was briefly acknowledged in council chambers Tuesday, before being sent to the Police Oversight Committee.

Of the nine council districts, Fillmore District has the most total stops.

“There’s a lot of nuance to these numbers and I wanna talk to the Police Commissioner in kinda explaining this…so that we can have a really hearty conversation in making sure that we are not disproportionately disenfranchising people of color in their own neighborhood,” Nowakowski said.

Councilmember David Rivera represents the Niagara District and is also the chair of the Police Oversight Committee.

Speaking in the council meeting he said: “The findings are alarming. However, I think we should send the analysis that made to the police department, giving the police department enough time to look at the information and data and the numbers.”

The next Police Oversight Committee meeting has not yet been scheduled.

The meetings are a path for communication between the Common Council and the Buffalo Police Department, but they have been sparse - only two such meetings took place in 2023 of a scheduled four.

The other two were canceled.

Traffic stop receipts are issued by officers when a traffic ticket is not - designed as a less punitive measure to police the streets and to increase transparency in the police department.

The receipts have been in use since June 2020 as part of Mayor Byron Brown’s Buffalo Reform Agenda. In July 2021, they were written into local law.

Before WBFO’s full story was published, WBFO contacted Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia for an interview. Gramaglia was on vacation at the time and so we requested – and received - a comment from the city in lieu of that interview. WBFO then extended an invitation to Gramaglia to speak on WBFO’s findings upon his return, at his convenience. At this time, we have not received a response to the request.

The invitation still stands.

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