Common Council members have charged the Buffalo Police Department with repeatedly understaffing precincts in the city's high-crime areas.
The charges originate from an internal memo that 10 police officers sent to Police Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske in August, claiming that the understaffing has resulted in poor response time and unsafe working conditions.
The memo from Genesee Station officers complains about the backlog of calls that results from poor staffing.
Police officials say the charges are unfounded and no precinct is ever allowed to fall below the city's minimum staffing rules.
The Council, in a resolution this week, said the staffing complaints have come from citizens, business people and police officers.
"They feel like they're being subjected to embarrassment and ridicule and feel their lives are in danger," said Masten Council Member Byron Brown.
The police union echoed Brown's complaints and said the city should act before understaffing results in a tragedy.
"They're putting officers in peril, not to mention the impact on investigations," said Lt. Robert P. Meegan Jr., police union head.
Police officials claim that the allegations came from a few disgruntled officers and that each precinct has staffing requirements.
"We never go below minimum manpower," said Capt. Joseph F. Strano of the Genesee Station.
At the Genesee Station, that means at least three patrol cars on the road during the day shift and five or six cars at night.
In some cases, the city might transfer a car from Genesee to the Broadway Station, but only when an extra patrol car is on duty, police said.
Patrol Chief Lawrence M. Ramunno called the charges "garbage."
"It's an angle they're playing to increase overtime," he said. "It's not a health and safety issue at all."