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Police Advisory Board, Buffalo Police discuss concerns of a white supremacist infiltration on the force

Communities of color in the City of Buffalo are voicing their concerns, through the Police Advisory Board, about the prospects of an infiltration of white supremacists in the city’s police department. Members of the board, the Common Council and police brass discussed the issue Wednesday during a session of the police oversight committee.

A report last August in The Guardian states white supremacy groups have infiltrated law enforcement agencies across the country over the last two decades, and members of Buffalo’s minority communities fear the same could happen in their city.

During a session of Buffalo Common Council’s Police Oversight Committee members of the independent, Common Council-created Police Advisory Board shared their report on how to address the problem of white supremacy in policing.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood said Internal Affairs backgrounds checks helps to weed out any extremist elements.

“We do go to the neighborhood that they live in and we go to where their employment is,” he said. “We interview the girlfriends. So I think they do a pretty good job as far as the investigation.”

Another community concern is the effort to hire more minority police officers to patrol the neighborhoods which they grew up in. From 2009 to 2019, the police department got whiter. Deputy Police Commissioner Barbara Lark touted the work the department has done in recruitment efforts over the past two years.

“We’ve done an extensive amount of work in the City of Buffalo to diversify and recruit minorities and people of color,” she said. “We were very active in putting together a recruitment team that consisted of our community police officers, myself and human resources. In fact, we went out to the neighborhoods, churches, community events.”

Lark said a record number of women and minorities have taken the police exam since these efforts were put in place.

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.