Creating A Safer City

By Richard Keem:

Rewind back to Buffalo in 1991. The Buffalo Bills were in their first Super Bowl, Pat Lafontaine was playing for the Sabres, OJ Simpson, Gil Perreault, Bob Lanier & Warren Spahn were inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame,  Goldome bank was liquidated, Jimmy Griffin was Mayor, David Franczyk was (and still is) on the Common Council and Bob Delano was indicted.  Nationally in 1991, George H. W. Bush was president, our military was overseas for Operation Desert Storm and a first class stamp only cost $0.25 ($0.27 after February 1991). In the arts world, Kurt Cobain was rocking it for Nirvana and Silence of the Lambs was the movie of the year. Internationally, USSR was in political unrest, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and USSR was dissolved. 1991 was also the last time the City did an exhaustive review and strategy on how to better protect the public safety.
A lot has changed over the last 19 years.
 
Michael Kearns, Michael LoCurto, David Rivera, Curtis Haynes, Jr., Richard Fontana and David Franczyk are looking to create an improved strategy on public safety.  The results back in 1991 of the Police Reorganization Commission (PRC) consolidated the City’s 14 precincts into 5 police districts. This was proposed to increase police presence; increase neighborhood orientated policing and reduce geographical boundaries, ultimately improving public safety.  The document released by the Common Council states “Nearly 20 years have passed since the PRC released The Police Commission Report. Over this time, the population and demographics of the City of Buffalo have changed and the field of law-enforcement has undergone major advances, particularly in terms of available technology.”

This PRC is set to consist of twelve members, 5 appointed by Mayor Brown, 5 appointed by the Common Council and 2 appointed by Buffalo Police Benevolent Association. The main objective of the PRC is to research best practices and create a stronger public safety strategy utilizing limited resources.

Friction at City Hall

This PRC is sure to get some friction from the Brown administration. The mayor has dabbled in public safety since he took over. Incidents such as Byron Jr’s joy ride, SWAT team’s presence at Canisius’ end of the year party, the Leonard Stokes incident, friction with Patricia Parete about medical bills after suffering a life changing injury on-duty, removal of H. McCarty Gipson, demotion of Donna Berry and the national search for a police commissioner.  All of these scandals have had an impact on the public image of our community, but we often overlook the impact this has on the morale of our team on the street. Something must explain our 100+ officers injured on duty.

On the other side of the coin, is the Common Council out to get back at the Mayor with this PRC? Should we expect another review in 2029? According to Fillmore District Council Member Franczyk, “20 years later, it’s time to take another look.”

Moving forward

As a concerned citizen, the most important duty for the government is to provide public safety.  By reviewing the best practices of other government entities and exploration of technological advances, this is a great opportunity to create a positive strategy for preventing, reducing and solving crime in our city. Next time, let’s not wait 19 years to rethink things.

About the author  ⁄ sabshink

61 comments
urbanesque
urbanesque

I blame George W. Bush for poverty and crime. It is all his fault.

BRING BACK CLINTON AND CARTER!!!! THEY ARE OUR SALVATION! THEY ARE THE KEEPERS OF THE RUST BELT REVIVAL!!!!!

urbanesque
urbanesque

THOSE DAMN REPUBLICANS! They keep our po' kids from graduating high school and force them into the gangs. They keep letting the rich get richer while forcing more of the po' to give up and live off the welfare. Them damn republicans are always trying to keep the po' from the money and keep mo' for themsefs.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The living wage is still at the low end of the middle class, there is plenty of room for a range of compensation. Of course that does put downward pressure on the highest earners, those that have made huge gains during the past 30 years, mainly with the help of government enablers such as Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and most of the Republican Party. You know those guys that told us we would all be better off if rich people got even richer and no longer payed their fair share of taxes.

sho'nuff
sho'nuff

Here is my question regarding a living wage. If we raise the pay of a minimum wage earner to that of the middle class, would we not expect to raise the middle class earner's salary to be more than the entry level person who is now making a living wage? Would the potential living wage bill actually cause an across the board inflation in wages, and a corresponding increase in cost of living? Would it in effect just raise the bar for everyone while keeping them in the same socio-economic position?

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I'll take residency one step further, if suburban residents were not able to live safely insulated from the crime and poverty in the city they would be clamoring for change. Some would demand law and order while the more enlightened might argue for a more equitable distribution of wealth by paying a living wage. As long as they are not affected they have no reason to address this serious problem. It is like on the news, if a white blue eyed suburban girl goes missing it is the top story, covered ad nauseum. If it is a poor black girl, not even mentioned. We have a double standard here in America and unless we face up to this disparity our "civilization" will continue to deteriorate.

whatever
whatever

BRL, If only my sarcasm about that could become reality!

Another approach could be to require any violent criminal who's given a very short sentence, such as the guy here who served less than a year after mostly-"indifferent" police arrested him for stabbing his wife 22 times, should then have to live for a year in the basement of the judge or DA who made his fast release possible.

That kind of residency rule could have some real results.

whatever
whatever

And you don't think any city residents ever express those kind of stereotypes about other city residents? Never happens? And it wouldn't be even more so among any who felt forced to stay living in the city to keep their jobs?

BRLifer>"Police Officers assigned to Precinct 13 lived in the neighborhood. They were a presence here and came out of their homes anytime there was trouble."

Perhaps that was a very different time in many ways throughout the whole justice system, and with family structures.

Now there's often very little or no consequences at home or in courts that happens even when an on-duty cop shows up when there's "trouble" - never mind an off-duty one.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Whatever- "Maybe judges and prosecuters should have to reside on high crime blocks" Gee, residency just might be effective, what a great idea.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Too bad suburbanites are not as community minded as you are, most don't consider people in Buffalo to be their "neighbors". If that were true the people of West Seneca would not refer to the city line as "slime line" and the people of Tonawanda would not refer to the kids in Riverside as "river rats". There are endless examples of city haters, check out the comments on the Buffalo News or listen to AM 930 for verification.

As for residency, when I was growing up many of the Police Officers assigned to Precinct 13 lived in the neighborhood. They were a presence here and came out of their homes anytime there was trouble. They also got to know who the troublemakers were and I am sure this was useful in their work.

whatever
whatever

BRLifer>"Those that committed violence were given long terms (as it should be)."

Sometimes, yes. Too often, no.

There's many examples similar to the one from last week I linked above about the guy convicted in '06 after 22 stab wounds being released fast, then convicted again in '07 of violence and again freed in '09 to commit serious crime #3 over four years.

How do you explain that?

And doesn't overflowing of the Holding Center and County Jail indicate our "mostly indifferent" (according to you) police are already arresting as many alleged criminals as this area is willing to have jail space for?

The biggest problems aren't that police don't make enough arrests - due to residency or anything else. Look downstream at courts, DA office plea deals, parole decisions, jail space shortages, etc. Maybe city judges and prosecutors should have to reside on high crime blocks?

whatever
whatever

BRLIfer>"Do you really believe we would not be better served by Police Officers if they were our neighbors and fellow citizens?"

I'm not obsessed with political boundaries, so I consider residents of Amherst, Cheektowaga, etc. to be our neighbors and fellow citizens.

Next, the same logic advocating a residency rule would have to say cops assigned to the East Side shouldn't be able to live in South Buffalo, and vice versa.

I doubt city crime would be any lower if there was a police residency rule. What stops crime? Criminals deciding to not commit a crime in the first place, or them being locked up for some time after doing it. Where a cop lives won't affect either of those. It also won't improve response time, training, management, hiring standards, union job protections, etc., not to mention the revolving doors of our jails and courts.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I think you are exaggerating the supposed laxity of our court system. I follow the crime reports especially here in Black Rock and know in most cases serious crimes are not treated lightly. Having grown up here I also know people that have gone to prison for various reasons. Those that committed violence were given long terms (as it should be). Some small time offenders do go in and out of the criminal justice system but many times there is a back story that is not reported. It is rarely as cut and dry as portrayed on TV and in the media.

Do you really believe we would not be better served by Police Officers if they were our neighbors and fellow citizens? Wouldn't they tend to be more committed and involved if they were a part of the community they serve? Seems like common sense to me.

whatever
whatever

LLBuff, it was me who proactively left the guy's name out in my comment.

The only reason I did was just in case having a name used would make anyone at BR nervous and consider deleting all or part of my comment. The name is at the link I included if anyone wants to see it.

A name doesn't affect my point anyway, which was the supposed "indifference" that BRLifer says "most" Buffalo police seem to have. What BRLifer sees as indifference might be simply ongoing discouragement or pessisimism the police have because they often see little or nothing happen even after serious convictions here.

LovinLivinintheBuff
LovinLivinintheBuff

Why is the perp's name left out of the quoted article? Is it not in the original article?

whatever
whatever

BRLifer>"As for the Police, most seem indifferent to the plight of the average citizen"

Whether or not your very broad brush generalization is true that most Buffalo police seem indifferent (same kind of stereotype you'd scream bloody murder about if anyone said "most" about some groups), still it's undeniable they arrest more violent criminals than our courts and prosecutors are willing to lock up.

What difference would it make if "most" acted less indifferently when the usual punishment faced by who they arrest is a wrist slap and quick release?

Look at this. Despite their alleged indifference, Buffalo cops arrested this guy at least 3 times now, and the first 2 times (see end) our system wouldn't even keep him locked up - even after he stabbed his wife 22 times for his first conviction and kicker her the following year for his second. Now a few years later after a third conviction, finally he has to "serve at least five years" of a supposed 25 year sentence. If he's deported he'll be gone from our streets but if a citizen he'd be back out here again soon even this time. And we think bike thieves will be punished if only most of our cops had to live in the city and acted less indifferent? Yeah, right.

http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/07/16/1114562/man-convicted-of-terrorizing-wife.html

"Man convicted of terrorizing wife

By Matt Gryta NEWS STAFF REPORTER July 16, 2010, 6:26 am

A Sudanese immigrant faces up to 25 years in prison, then deportation, after a jury Thursday found him guilty of his burglary and criminal contempt for terrorizing his estranged wife after breaking into her Prospect Avenue flat on June 9, 2009.

...[name] will be sentenced Aug. 25. Prosecutors ... said they will urge Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III to recommend the maximum penalty for the crime - 25 years in prison. The prosecutors also said [], who would serve at least five years in prison, faces deportation after serving his sentence.

[] broke into the victim’s flat at about 2 a.m., when he terrorized her, a boyfriend and five children, all younger than 7 — four of them his own. The victim testified that [] smashed the front door of her first-floor flat with a metal rod, broke into her bedroom and said, “I’m going to kill you and the children.”

...According to court records, [] served brief Buffalo jail terms on a weapons possession charge in 2006 after stabbing his wife 22 times in the right arm and in 2007 after tracking her down to a friend’s house on the West Side and repeatedly kicking her. "

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Residency rules are common in the suburbs for good reason, they benefit the community. The presence of Police, Firefighters, Teachers, etc. bring middle class residents and their dollars back to the community. In a perfect world we would not need to require residency but Buffalo is at a great disadvantage by not being able to enforce residency while our neighbors continue to do so. We can't afford to send our tax dollars to the suburbs and at the same time we need solid middle class citizens to help stabilize our neighborhoods.

As for the Police, most seem indifferent to the plight of the average citizen. There are exceptions but usually they lack the passion and commitment that comes from calling a place home. If they had a stake in our city I am confident they would be more responsive and involved.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

I believe State law exempts Policemen, Firemen, and Sanitation workers.

whatever
whatever

It's against NY state law for cities like Buffalo to have residency rules for police. Anyone who wants those to happen should complain to their state legislators.

Personally, I'm against all residecy rules in all municipalities. They're dumb in Amherst and Buffalo, but regardless of that, Buffalo isn't allowed to have them for police. For some city jobs they can and do. For fire fighters, they don't (not sure about state law on that).

The major reasons people don't cooperate with police wouldn't be changed at all if cops had to live in the city. Most city residents aren't obsessed with anti-suburbism.

The biggest reasons are fear of retaliation and the awareness that the so-called justice system is pathetic here. Police already arrest a lot more guilty people than our courts and prosecutors are willing to lock up. Jails are already overflowing. It's a revolving door, even for violent crimes.

The Kettle
The Kettle

I thought there was a residency rule for police and fire now.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

The police are seen as outsiders by many since they rarely are a part of the community. Residency requirements would change that and the officers would likely be more committed to the city. I would think this would also translate into more respect and cooperation for the officers and a better result for our citizens.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I agree. I would even be ok with Buffalo police officers being able to take their cruisers home at night if they live in the city just to enforce their presence. I feel they would also take more stock in the city if they lived here instead of just showing up for their shift and leaving after.

brownteeth
brownteeth

It’s so cute that you think these parents actually care. You suggest these things as if life is some ‘80’s “take back the street” movie where all these wholesome families are stuck in their homes because of crime outside. The reality is that the parents are the ones to blame in these neighborhoods. A swimming pool or big brother program will not change people who throw garbage on their own front lawns into people who clean up their neighborhood and take care of their children.

Unfortunately they learned their behavior from their parents and will pass it down to their kids. You can’t just send volunteers into a bad neighborhood and expect the parents to just let them teach their kids and take them under their wing. Unless your name is Louis Gossett Jr., good luck.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Requiring residency for police officers would not only bring a much needed presence to our neighborhoods but would also encourage the officers to take ownership and become involved in the community they serve.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Its very important to you that you get the last word isnt it? Anything less would be a defeat for your virtual macho man persona.

Im glad to see ive pushed enough of your buttons to chase me around in other discussions. If you wernt so sheltered Id suggest smoking a little MJ to ease some of those angry thoughts.

But at least you have regi-q and your sense of humor. Maybe if you keep repeating the same 3 sarcastic jokes the rest of us may find them funny.

Allentwnguy
Allentwnguy

The first guy went down my 120 ft driveway and was looking around, for what I'll hopefully never know, I believe that is trespassing. But being retired I'm around during the day. In the past 2 weeks there have been several incidents on this end of Allen St. I believe the police presence is much less than it was.

peacesigns
peacesigns

Poodle: Is not your what doing lashing out? Keep the peace my friend, life is too short to carry around all that anger inside of you. It almost sounds like you might be a midget.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Well I dont think Ive "lashed out" at anybody. As I said before I cant match your passion and bitterness. No matter how hard they try to boot the Krust man out you stay one step ahead and come back again and again. You are on a mission and you will be heard. You will be heard.

It looks like you are dabbling in amateur psychology. You ought to examine some of your own hall of fame material on this site. I wonder what character flaws are associated with a guy who badmouths people online, spews rage on a daily basis, and openly daydreams about male 2 wheeled desert peddlers.

peacesigns
peacesigns

Thanks, poodle. As I've always said I gladly buy you a beer or 3 sometime.

I just think you can come up with better material. I've always enjoyed your ability to play the victim card while lashing out at other with vengeance, hinting at a suppressed passive aggressive nature. While PA is a deplorable character flaw, I just don't want you to lose your edge. I'm in your corner, dog.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Well I certainly cant match your anger Krusty. Only a select few can grind the ol ax day in and day out like you.

flyguy
flyguy

Bring back the stocks. Put them right downtown in front of city hall. I bet humiliation would make idiots and their idiot friends think twice before doing dumb again. A "cool" guy who gets by in life by intimidating others or leaching off them doesn't want to look like an idiot and certainly doesn't want to feel helpless.

LesterCzepnakski
LesterCzepnakski

the first guy you mention, what exactly was he doing? Drinking out of a bag? I see transients doing that all the time... during the day throughout the city.

You really think police are going to respond to a stolen bike? In a perfect world, yes, but that's like calling the police to report a lost cat. Low, low priority.

25 years ago I had my car radio stolen in my car parked on Allen & Franklin, I had just parked it at 9:30 AM on a Sunday. Smashed the driver window to get it. Also had a car stolen from a lot on Summer & Linwood 25 yrs ago as well, and an apartment broken into & EVERYTHING stolen on Bryant & Elmwoood... clothes, a small tv, JAR OF PENNIES. Crime is here to stay in every urban environment. I think it's much better than it was though.

Allentwnguy
Allentwnguy

I think Allentown is in for some hard times. Yesterday a guy came down my driveway (I have a motion sensor) I saw him as he was walking out. I thought he was going to go into my neighbors and was in my driveway by accident. Nope he kept on walking. It bugged me so I got into the car and went looking. I'm on College and he wound up walking up Mariner to North and over to the vacant nursing home on the circle and sat there. He was a thug, brown bag in hand.

Two guys one with the same description tried to steal a friend’s bike from the fence at Nietzsche's. Some witnessed it and called the police...they never came.

Yesterday a garage on Mariner had a lock cut and was burglarized.

It is getting worse in this neighborhood. There is virtually no police presence. Unless you want to count the people that busted all the bars on this end of Allen for having drinks taken off premises this past weekend. Way to keep the neighborhood safe!!! They can stake out the bars and not show up for a bike theft attempt when the guys were caught in the act and walking away. Way to go Patterson!

LesterCzepnakski
LesterCzepnakski

you describe much of what Buffalo streets are really like, not really violent crime (though I'm sure you see that too) but mostly social decay. this is something Buffalo rising neglects, it's one thing to be positive but to not address core problems is a genuine disservice to readers. why do you stay where you are? Stuck or committed?

peacesigns
peacesigns

Poodle: you certainly have lost this one. Game, set... You are better than this, step up your game, we all know you have more ability than this. The Icejizzcream dude is counting on you.

The Kettle
The Kettle

I just hope practicing the commandments of the Church of Freemarketology is legal in builtopia. What will all of the selective fiscal conservatives and armchair economics professors do otherwise?

ReginaldQMerriweatherIV
ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

to the curb, urban farms and ice cream wagons? it might not be utopia, but its certainly, builtopia.

"from each according to his abilities, to each with a bike rack."

amen

peacesigns
peacesigns

Poodle: I was thinking more Plato and Thomas More but as they say, a state arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants, such as the ice cream boy.

The Kettle
The Kettle

Strange that you two use the word "utopia" to mock aspects of urbanism. Utopian movements were failed anti-city suburban developments that have more in common with Orchard Park than the West Side. Build to the curb, urban farming and the Creamcycle have nothing to do with "utopia".

peacesigns
peacesigns

Well although I do love utopia, I must say it needs some more bike racks and additional coverage of visits from the ice cream dude. Why is he always ignored in utopia, just because he sells kiddie crack made from corn syrup?

ReginaldQMerriweatherIV
ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

I second this vote for Real World: West Side

what happens when 7 hipsters stop being polite and start getting shot at.

JohnQBuffalo
JohnQBuffalo

Mr. GreenJeans, I would hope parents would exersize good judgment in choosing who would watch their kids.

I would refer you to Buffalonian Tim Russert who mentions his wonderful father as a role model but also the mentoring that he received from local priests.

Its true, unsupervised kids can be weapons against a community which explains much of the decline in the late 60s and 70s LOL. Kids need to be mentored with listening and guidance as well as molded and shaped with opportunities to direct their youth productively and positively.

You might not find a Mary Poppins babysitter that can fix all the human conditions that you witness but a good mentor can accomplish a lot. Organizations like BIGBROTHERS/BIGSISTERS, volunteer organizations can too.

If you want to help change things then you might want to make others aware of the need in the neighborhood.

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

Kids "supervised" by morons will yield disaster, JohnQ. Come on down to the Real World, West Side Style, where dysfunctional "families" use the offspring as weapons against the rest of the nighborhood.

I am not kidding - please contact me at WNY14213-at-Yahoo-Dot-Com, and we can sit on my front steps for a couple of evenings so you can be regaled with the SCREAMING, ALCOHOLIC, FIGHTING, MORONIC nonsense which kills any chance of me finding either a decent tenant or purchaser, so I can escape this hell-hole of "city life".

The unfortunate Urban-Pioneer-Wannabees who bought houses near me are all huddling inside, air-conditioners at full-blast, wondering: "Where were those White Trash scumbags when we looked at this place?"

JohnQBuffalo
JohnQBuffalo

Lester, with great respect a swimming pool was just an example of how a neighborhood association of all the property owners within a city block could pool their resouces to afford something for themselves and their children which would keep them off the street that they might not otherwise be able afford.

It could be cheap like a sandbox or expensive like a pool. If there are 20-30 houses on a city block then that makes a pretty significant cost reduction.

And yes...with shared resources can come pet sitters, day care and nurserys were stay at home moms/dads could actually make an income too.

There are 2 ideal ways to connect with neighbors. Get to know your neighbors through your backyard (everyone on the city block) and get to know your neighbors through your front porch (everyone adjacent and across the street).

Having kids engaged in productive activities and being supervised will yield great results.

LesterCzepnakski
LesterCzepnakski

swimming pools to combat crime? wow! but could they afford security guards too. Personally I feel that many areas of the city are much safer than they were 20-30 yrs ago. Allen town, Elmwood, downtown core were not places one always felt safe way back then when I first came to Buffalo. I was mugged a few times in Allen town but learned how to use numchucks and a bow staff, I havent had to use either in year.

ReginaldQMerriweatherIV
ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

I can't wait for the renderings.

hopefully, our utopia will be built to the curb. (although utopia and built to the curb are redundant, are they not?)

snarkygoldfish
snarkygoldfish

Sounds like the best thing Buffalo could do to improve it's public safety situation is to finally get rid of Byron Brown.

whatever
whatever

LouisTully>"Police don't run."

Oh, they don't?

http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/07/17/1115495/three-held-in-carjacking-attempt.html

Three held in carjacking attempt

By Joseph Popiolkowski NEWS STAFF REPORTER

Updated: July 17, 2010, 10:13 am

Three teenagers were arrested Friday after an attempted carjacking in North Buffalo, and at least one has admitted to taking part in the attempted robbery of an in-line skater Wednesday night in Delaware Park, police said.

...Police said three youths, one armed with a gun, had approached a woman stopped at the traffic light at Delaware Avenue and Nottingham Terrace at about 4:30 a. m. Friday.

The victim sped off and called 911 to report the incident.

Officers Jeff Jajkowski and Eric Hofschneider tracked the three to Delaware Park, spotted them hiding in bushes and pursued them on foot and by car.

“[The officers] chased them through the golf course — did an unbelievable job,” said Barba, who identified one of the three as a high school track star.

..."

Maybe those cops didn't get the memo from Louis that they're lazy slobs and don't run.

kellymaurer
kellymaurer

To everyone who doubts that people in distressed urban areas (or war torn countries) - please google Lily Yeh or go to barefootartists.org or view one of Lily's conference addresses which can be found on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFJkbwFllWY

I saw her speak in person (and I had the pleasure of eating lunch with her the day before). She speaks about the power in each of us to confront our fear of powerlessness and to create meaningful community. She moved the entire audience to tears.

peacesigns
peacesigns

It might make sense to form a Commission first to study the problem and then file a lawsuit. There is a protocol to these things

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