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MAYORAL ROUNDTABLES: India Walton and Byron Brown answer questions from seven WBFO reporters in two one hour specials.

Putting perspective on police department issues

Jay Moran/WBFO

The international spotlight has been on the Buffalo Police department in recent days. Much of that attention was ignited last Thursday when a protester was injured after he was pushed by members of the department's Emergency Response Team on the steps of City Hall. While she no longer covers the department, journalist Daniela Porat reflected on her previous reporting which highlighted a number of issues, including the use of excessive force and the lack of appropriate training.

No longer living and working here, Porat has been following the recent controversy regarding the Buffalo Police department. The news has sparked recollections of concerns raised during her reporting on police issues.

She recalled a source inside the department who felt officers needed to be better trained to de-escalate encounters "so, the situation doesn't reach a point where force is necessary."

Porat reported on police issues through 2018 at Investigative Post. Often she would delve into department records for a clearer understanding. 

"The Internal Affairs division had actually cleared officers of wrongdoing in almost all completed investigations into excessive use of force filed between January, 2014 and September, 2016," Porat recalled.

"That, to me, said there was really no accountability for the use of force."

She also discovered that officers were required to take a written pass-fail exam when it came to the use of force which she called "counterintuitive."

Porat also recalled a poignant comment from a mother in the city of Buffalo who provided a dark assessment saying " the police was like a gang against the community."

Protesters, of course, in recent days have been sharing similar critiques. Like many across the country, Porat has been listening. 

"I feel like that has been what communities of color in Buffalo have felt for a long time," Porat said.

""Now, it seems like that sentiment is being understood more broadly."