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Change coming to the Buffalo Police Department

WBFO file photo

An interim police commissioner, technology and two separate probes of deaths in confrontations with Buffalo police officers are leading to significant changes in the way officers and the public meet.

That ranges from tests of body cameras on officers to possibly issuing Tasers for use as an alternative to the deadly force of service weapons. There is also the dissolution of the Strike Force after several years of complaints.

While the potential changes are welcomed on several fronts, there are concerns. At the top of that list is insuring all understand how to use new technology. 

"We've been clamoring for advanced training for as long as I've been with the union and probably long before I was here.," said John Evans, President of the Police Benevolent Association.

"With that would come, I think, more thorough and better-conducted investigations."

John Curr III, Western Region Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, agrees. 

"We need to have community-oriented policing in the community. We need to get officers out of the cars and be part of the community that they protect and serve."

The police SWAT team has two Tasers although they are not routinely used. The department is likely to try testing of body cams next month, to see how to make their use effective and workable.

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.