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Triple shooting prompts community center changes

Mike Desmond

The shootings of three young people, one fatally, outside a North Buffalo community center is prompting major changes in community center operations and dealing with kids with gang ties.

City Hall is now requiring people who want to rent community rooms to list adults who will be chaperones for the event and ensure they show up. There also will have to be a community center staffer present for an event involving young people. That will allow cops to drive by and check what is going on.

"Going forward, we want to make sure that we are aware of any event that's going to have a large presence of juveniles or even people in general, just so that our district chiefs are aware." said Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo.

"They can notify their platoon officers who can drive by, keep an eye on things and be aware that if there is an incident what might be occurring, that there is an event tonight at a community center where there's expected to be 50-60 juveniles."

There is also the issue of gangs, although Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown would not say that, just that the three kids were targeted. Police are working with a lot of evidence and there were surveillance cameras at the community center, from which more information may be gained.

Brown said Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood is expanding a program of telling parents about their kids' gang activity.

"Commissioner Lockwood will be reassigning some grant-funded positions to enhance the custom notification process," Brown said, "to ensure that parents are notified if there has been any gang contact or any gang involvement with their chlldren."

Brown said the police department has been working closely with the school system, especially after the weekend shooting. The school board is increasingly concerned about gang activity in schools, something talked about during last Wednesday's committee meetings.

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.