Surveillance cameras, bigger rewards and forging stronger ties with neighborhood activists are some tools the Police Department plans to use in its ongoing crime crackdown.
Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina met with community leaders and Common Council members on an East Side street corner Wednesday to unveil what some call a new partnership aimed at curbing violence.
A key element involves encouraging more people to become the "eyes and ears" for law enforcers, Diina said.
"We can't do it alone. We need cooperation," said Diina.
Leaders from several anti-crime organizations pledged their support and praised city officials for taking steps to address violence, including a large number of unsolved homicides.
"We're tired of going to funerals," said Kenny Simmons, a minister who is vice president of MAD DADS' Buffalo chapter. "We're tired of seeing grieving mothers, grieving fathers and grieving siblings."
Diina and several of his top managers outlined several strategies that are planned. They include:
Installing surveillance cameras at crime hot spots throughout the city. Richard A. Ortiz, the Police Department's chief of administration, said some cameras will be permanently installed, while others will be mobile devices that can be relocated. Officials are reviewing how many cameras will be needed and where they will be installed.
Increasing reward funds to encourage people to provide information about crimes. Efforts are being made to identify federal and state funds that can be used for such purposes.
Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson believes that such incentives will produce more leads for police officers.
"Whether it's a $100 reward or a $1,000 reward, people will begin to talk," said Thompson, who called Wednesday's news conference a critical turning point in efforts to make Buffalo a safer place.
Equipping some block club leaders and other neighborhood activists with cell phones in an effort to promote better communication with law enforcers. State Sen. Byron W. Brown, D-Buffalo, plans to secure state funding to help buy some cell phones and increase reward funds. Ellicott Council Member Brian C. Davis said forging "partnerships" with the community could go a long way in reducing violence.
Mayor Anthony M. Masiello later said police officials are also continuing to study the possibility of reinstituting the homicide squad. The homicide and robbery squads were consolidated into the Major Crimes Unit for financial reasons. But critics have noted that only 47 percent of the city's 790 homicides between 1990 and 2003 were solved. A decision is expected soon on whether the squad will be reactivated.
Masiello said he thinks the new tactics outlined Wednesday will produce results.
"Every new tool helps," he said. "But there's no one-size-fits-all solution to the (crime) problem," he said.