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Buffalo Police announce major staffing changes; public meeting tonight

Big changes are in the works for the Buffalo Police Department and many of them were greeted with derision by the Common Council Tuesday.

The department is about to shift all detectives to day hours and one of the two captains in A District, which includes parts of the South, Lovejoy and Fillmore Council districts, is being transferred. The Police Benevolent Association also wrote to the Council saying four detectives had been cut from the Narcotics Squad in this time of the opioid crisis.

The changes have drawn a public meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Southside Elementary School. South District Councilmember Chris Scanlon said they should not happen.

"Criminals don't work banker hours, so it makes it difficult for these detectives if they have to wait to the following day to follow up any leads," Scanlon said. "They can dry up over the evening and so I thank everyone for getting on board. Hopefully, through the conversation we've had with Commissioner Lockwood and others this can be rectified."

Mayor Byron Brown said he has been briefed by police brass on the changes and why they were made.

"They have assessed how personnel respond at different times of the day and they think a re-assignment of detectives to days makes sense and, as needed, detectives can be called in on overtime," Brown said, "and they think the end result of that would be greater efficiency and less cost of providing public safety services."

Council Majority Leader David Rivera, a retired detective, told the Council session that it was often hard to reach victims of crime during the day because they were working and it is necessary to talk to victims to properly investigate crimes.

"I've worked as a detective many times. We would have to wait for people to come home from work at 5 o'clock because, in certain areas, maybe in South Buffalo perhaps, many people work," Rivera said, "and you need to get in touch with the victims to properly investigate those cases that are solvable."

The city has issued the required 30-day notice to make the schedule changes.

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.