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Buffalo Police Traffic Unit to be dissolved

WBFO file photo

The Buffalo Police Department is breaking up its dedicated traffic unit and redistributing its approximately 50 officers among its five patrol districts.

The unit's responsibilities, explained Captain Jeffrey Rinaldo, included managing pedestrian and auto traffic flow at events including parades, motorcades, 5K runs and other races, sporting events and other special events. Most of the events the unit would oversee have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, and Rinaldo suggests many are unlikely to occur in the coming months.

"Financially the city, the department, has some challenges. So, in an effort to redistribute those officers and allow us to attempt to cut some of our costs for overtime in the districts, the decision was made by the commissioner to disband that unit, and put those officers back into the five patrol districts," he told WBFO Tuesday.

Any officer may conduct traffic enforcement, the captain added, and some recurring events are policed by the districts in which they are held. Rinaldo named Taste of Buffalo as one example.

Could a dedicated unit be reformed in the future?

"We will definitely see exactly what the future holds, in terms of how many events come back online when they come online, what the nature of those events are," Rinaldo said. "And, twice a year the commissioner has the ability to adjust manpower to meet the needs of the department. I would say nothing's impossible."

The captain added that enforcement operations including school zone cameras are unrelated to the police traffic unit. That, he explained, is part of the city's Traffic Bureau, and not the police department.

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.