Police body cameras watched thousands wear the green in honor of St. Patrick
The drums rolled out, the Irish dancers danced and there were even a couple St. Patricks. What was different was that every uniformed Buffalo Police officer providing security for the parade wore a body camera, a first for a department gradually converting to all patrol officers wearing the cameras.
For Lt. Gov. Kathleen Courtney Hochul, it was a good day and a bad day. Her family has long been active in the Irish community and in forming the Buffalo Irish Center on Abbott Road. Later in the day, she had to head out to a Getzville mosque to attend a memorial service for the people killed in a terrorist attack on Thursday.
On Delaware Avenue, she talked about the parade.
"It has been one rough winter. I have been at the Command Center with all of you countless times, talking about unprecedented high winds and snowstorms. We have had a rough winter," Hochul said. "This is the unofficial beginning of spring. Forget the fact that it's 30 degrees. Spring is on its way and it starts here at the St. Patrick's Day Parade."
While it was chilly, the sun was out and many stayed warm in Niagara Square with warm sun reflecting off the Jackson federal court house. In random interviews, no one admitted being opposed to the body cameras. Anthony Lopes said they are good for the officers.
"It's a good idea, keeps the policeman safe," he said. "I support the police and I think a lot of times their situation, whatever they've done, gets misconstrued and I think it's good protection for them."
Doug Huber didn't see anything objectionable about the body cameras.
"If you're not doing anything wrong, you won't have to worry," Huber said.
Kevin Edwards agreed it is a sign of our times.
"Absolutely, but if it makes them safer, it's also a good thing," Edwards said. "I actually think it's a good thing."
"We have continued our body camera program," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "It started with a pilot. The pilot was very successful. Now, we have officers who are here at the parade today wearing body cameras. The phase that we are in is with one of our district police stations."
Eventually, around 550 patrol officers in Buffalo will be wearing the cameras.