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Brown, Walton react to NY Attorney General's police oversight recommendation

Thomas O'Neil-White

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Mayoral candidate India Walton on Wednesday responded to Monday’s letter to the Mayor from New York Attorney General Letitia James calling on the city to develop an independent civilian oversight committee to investigate charges of police misconduct.

With Martin Gugino at her side Wednesday afternoon, Buffalo Mayoral candidate India Walton says it is time for the city to earnestly develop an independent, citizen-run oversight committee with subpoena power, for instances of police misconduct.

Walton’s remarks fall in line with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ letter to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Monday:

“We have seen all over the country that we can't depend on police to investigate police and we need community members who are experts in this area to be able to not only recommend disciplinary actions,” she said. “But have a place where citizens feel comfortable, where residents feel comfortable going to someone that's outside of the system to voice their concerns.”

Last summer Gugino was filmed being pushed to the ground by Buffalo police officers during a protest over the murder of George Floyd. Gugino spent a month in the hospital, but the officers were not charged in the incident. He now has a civil lawsuit against the city and members of the police force.

Later Wednesday, Brown stated his initial draft of police reforms to Albany contained items which could be implemented immediately and said he will work with the community to provide more long-term reforms.

“I am not opposed to listening to people to talking to people and to doing the real research that is required to implement reforms that will make a real difference in improving policing and public safety in our community,” he said.

A civilian oversight committee has been supported by the Common Council’s Police Advisory Board.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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