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Citizens group formed to offer police oversight advice debuts in City Hall

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Buffalo Common Council's Police Oversight Committee, before hearing from police administrators about key issues, introduced members of a newly-formed community panel that will offer a voice in the police department's relationship with the public.

The Community Advisory Body on Police Oversight is made up of eleven individuals representing diverse backgrounds such as academia, legal support, and community groups.

"We are all responsible for each other," said Danielle Johnson, of Open Buffalo's Justice and Opportunity Table and one of the panelists. "We are responsible for each other's well-being and ability just to live good, decent, positive lives."

Since it was first formed in early March, the citizens' group has already met twice. Johnson says they look forward to speaking directly with police about some of the current issues, including the possibility of acquiring tasers, officer body cameras and fostering trust between police and public.

"This is a conversation I'm looking forward to our advisory body having with police officers," said Johnson, when addressing talk of police acquiring tasers. "Though I'm sure the officers are coming from a positive place, from a good place, it is good for them to understand what the consequences of that would be for the residents and building trust."

The Partnership for the Public Good recently issued a series of reforms it would like to see within the Buffalo Police Department. They include more emphasis on community policing. Johnson said police officers who want to foster a positive relationship with the community should be recognized and rewarded. 

In addition to Johnson, the members of the Community Body on Police Oversight are: Bobbie Brown (Resident Advisory Board member for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority), Erin Carman (assistant professor, Daemen College Department of Social Work), De'Jon Hall (MOCHA Center), Jonathan Manes (assistant clinical professor, University at Buffalo School of Law and director of the UB Law School's Civil Liberties and Transparency Clinic), Ari Moore (Western New York Anti-Violence Project), Charles Morrison (My Brother's Keeper), Benjamin Nelson (National Lawyers Guild), Steven Sanyu (Burmese Community Services), Willie Smith (My Brother's Keeper) and Yasmin Young (WBLK Radio host and director of community outreach).

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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