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New Buffalo Police HQ opens to public

Mike Desmond

It's been a long time coming. Buffalo Police have been headquartered out of the same building at Franklin and Church streets since the 1930s. On Friday, their new HQ opens to officers and the public.

The city's police department is far enough along in its move to 68 Court Street - the old Dillon Federal Court House - that it is moving public contact to the new building and centralizing a lot of the paperwork and procedures.

While the old court house is actually around the same age as police headquarters, it is much larger and in much better shape - ready to house Buffalo's Police and Fire Departments. Police Public Information Officer Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said the move is still underway, around 85 percent right now.

"Some functions, though, are still going to remain at Franklin Street - so for prisoner property pickup or any type of property evidence handling, that will still occur over at Franklin Street, as well as our range, our credit union and our Police Benevolent Association," Rinaldo said. "It's still going to operate out of the Franklin Street Headquarters at this time, as their spaces are not yet complete here at Dillon."

While the police move will mostly be finished within weeks, it will not be complete until the firing range is moved from the old headquarters and it is not clear when that will happen.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Buffalo Police are moving to the old Dillon federal court house on Court Street, about the same age their their current headquarters.

"By mid-October, we're hoping to have all the property evidence areas moved. As far as the firearms range, that function will remain at Franklin for some time to come," he said. "We're currently in the process of exploring our options for either building a new range or partnering with other agencies to use their range as Dillon does not have a life-fire firearms range."

The move is about a year behind schedule and nearly double the originally anticipated cost of $3.5 million. Rinaldo said new IT measures raised the costs.

"The data lines that were in here were run well over 10, 12, 15 years ago, so we've updated it. Our IT in this building now is state-of-the-art," Rinaldo said. "So it's been a process, but, again, we're confident that it works. We have been doing a lot of system testing to see if our redundancies are in place. So if our camera network goes down, does the redundant server kick in? Those types of things. So I think we're in a really good place in terms of our infrastructrure."

Once the rest of police operations are moved in, the Fire Department will start shifting from its HQ behind City Hall to Dillon. That should take place in late October, with the new space designed for the two departments to work together. That means that the police arson unit and fire investigators will work out of the same space.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.