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Buffalo Police discuss proposed changes before Common Council committee today

Mike Desmond
Snow-covered patrol cars sit at the Seneca Street garage.

Buffalo Police brass are scheduled to be in front of the Common Council Community Development Committee Tuesday to talk about problems in the department.

Some problems surfaced recently - cuts in detective squads like narcotics and homicide, cuts in the command structure in South Buffalo, switching all detectives to the day shift and significant incidents of officers in the districts without cars because so many need to be fixed.

Questions in committee are likely to reflect many public comments made during a recent public meeting in South Buffalo, where many of these issues were openly discussed. The shortage of patrol cars was discussed by the Police Benevolent Association with Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood.

The union's president, John Evans, said the commissioner agrees there are a lot of cars out.

"He's looked into the Seneca garage, where they have had mechanic issues. They can't retain 'em," Evans said. "I don't know if they have to increase the pay or something to make that job attractive. We need cars. Like Lt. Goodspeed, he noticed 40 dead cars at the Seneca garage."

They are clearly visible from surounding streets. Evans said it is very hard to use officers when there are no cars for them to drive. It is likely to be months before new cars show up.

Evans said he also can't figure out why specialist detective squads are being cut, possibly reflecting major retirements.

"A 30-day posting is all they have to do," the union president said. "They were cut through attrition, as retired. They eliminated the positions, so nobody actually got cut out of it, but they have to post for 30 days, the new position. They're not being reinstated. They are being eliminated, which is baffling to me."

Evans said the switch to dayside was blocked by a union grievance, which will be heard some time in April. That delays the shift until at least July. The Police Department had no comment.

If the staff cuts and shift changes become reality, Evans said they will become apparent.

"Putting together cases, criminal cases, getting the evidence and the like to put the case together to bring it to the DA's office. There are going to be ramifications and crimes aren't going to be solved," he said. "So we'll probably see a spike in burglaries and the like, which is nothing we want to see."

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