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City lawmakers say Buffalo police cars can wait

Mike Desmond

Buffalo Common Council members delayed voting on buying or leasing new police cars Tuesday so they can get more information on the advantages and disadvantages of both.

The need is clear, just by traveling past the police garage on Seneca Street and seeing the vehicles waiting for repairs. There just aren't enough patrol cars for the number of officers available.

There is $1 million in the capital budget for buying cars and a proposal to lease patrol vehicles. At the Finance Committee on Tuesday, committee members expect to hear details for each proposal to add to the thinning patrol fleet.

Council Majority Leader David Rivera is a retired police detective who said it is a waste if there aren't enough functioning cars.

"Vehicles are very important. We want to make sure that the officers are safe generally, the public is safe and that we have enough vehicles that the officers can use," Rivera said. "It would be a shame to have more officers than vehicles. We want to make sure every shift is covered. If you get to work and the vehicle is down, that's not good because you have officers that are ready to go out on the street and you don't have the vehicles."

Finance Committee Chairman Rasheed Wyatt said he wants to find out if the garage has enough mechanics and repair people, or is there a way to send patrol cars out to car dealers for work. He said city streets need those patrol cars with officers on patrol.

"Especially with the recent crime statistics that says our crime rate is going up, I mean we need every available car to ensure that we get that crime rate back down," Wyatt said, "but, again, if we can get to the heart of the matter. If we need additional personnel, if we need to increase their salaries so that we can keep these vehicles on the road, we need to visit that."

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.
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