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Panel explores police use of excessive force

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

With a series of high-profile incidents sparking controversy around the country, the use of force by police has become a hot topic. The issue was addressed during a Wednesday panel discussion in the Central Library sponsored by the Erie County Bar Association.

There was a small crowd to listen to speakers and ask questions about how it all works and whether better screening of police candidates would help in troublesome situations.

Another issue is officers wearing cameras. Lancaster Town Police Chief Jerry Gill says it's expensive to buy and maintain the cameras.

"It's having a supervisor oversee the integrity of that evidence, of that video imagery," Gill explained. His department is currently examining the costs.

"It's training involved and obviously there are monies there available in the form of a grant, but not for the maintenance of that information and the dissemination of that information."

 Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini Ross has prosecuted police officers. She also believes the public can do their part in diffusing tense encounters with police. 

"If a person says, 'Officer what did I do wrong?' Then, I think it puts the law enforcement officer in a perspective this person is going to cooperate," offered Ross, who says she has advised her African-American children in how to speak with police. 


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.