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Buffalo police union leader urges two officers, rifles in patrol cars

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Since an online threat of violence was posted against Buffalo Police officers, patrol cars have been staffed by two officers instead of one. Following deadly attacks on cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the union representing Buffalo police officers wants to keep two officers in each car, and give them rifles.

Leaders of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association gathered outside the entrance to Old County Hall on Monday morning to endorse John Flynn in the race for Erie County District Attorney.

But before and after the announcement, most of the talk was about recent violence against police officers in Dallas and in Baton Rouge. Since July 8, Buffalo Police patrol cars have been staffed by two officers, even though a PBA contract in effect since 2002 calls for single-officer cars.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda ordered double staffing in response to a "credible threat" of violence against police officers that was found posted online. Last week, police arrested and charged Arthur Jordan, 23, in that case. However, patrol cars have remained staffed by two officers.

PBA president Kevin Kennedy, during Monday morning's endorsement of Flynn for DA, indicated that the union would like to keep two officers in every patrol car. 

"It's not only a safety issue but when you have two people in a car crew, there's more crimes that you can see," Kennedy explained. "There's a lot of equipment in that car. The onboard computers, there's vision obstructions. For one person, it takes a great deal of effort just to concentrate on patrolling the areas that you're assigned to.

"With the additional body in the car, you can keep an eye out for other crime."

Kennedy suggested officers should also receive additional training to defuse hostile situations on the streets. He also renewed a PBA call for rifles in the patrol cars.

"I know that's a touchy subject, but as you see with the latest incident in Dallas and the incident in Baton Rouge, patrol officers encountered persons with higher firepower than they had at their hip," Kennedy said. "I think patrol rifles is definitely an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront."

The PBA chief noted that during his career, before this month's violent incidents elsewhere in the nation, he has buried four comrades.

"I've also in my lifetime had to bury an uncle that was on this job," Kennedy said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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