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Gipson says rebuilding trust in police is a top goal

The man who was unanimously confirmed Tuesday as Buffalo's new police commissioner thinks some people have lost faith in the Police Department.

H. McCarthy Gipson said rebuilding that trust is one of his priorities, and he's convinced one way to do it is by enforcing laws that improve conditions in neighborhoods.

And Gipson made it clear that he intends to beef up enforcement of quality-of-life laws without seeking any additional manpower -- at least for now.

"We're stuck with the manpower we have, and we'll work with the resources currently available," Gipson told reporters moments after the Common Council voted, 9-0, to make him Buffalo's top law enforcer.

But Gipson reiterated what he said Feb. 1 when he was nominated by Mayor Byron W. Brown for the job, stating he would like to "revisit" police manpower in the next couple of years. Under a plan approved by the city and its control board, the 774-person department is scheduled to shrink to 675 officers.

Gipson said he is working on a six-month strategic plan that will include "zero tolerance" of offenses that have disrupted many neighborhoods. He has promised officers will be vigilant in enforcing everything from laws against prostitution, drinking in public, loitering and noise violations to the youth curfew.

The new commissioner was also asked about the recent crackdown on parking violators.

"If someone is parking illegally, they should expect they're going to get a parking ticket," he said.

He downplayed the impact that a wage freeze might be having on the enforcement blitz. The control board that oversees city finances blocked raises for all city employees, and a few officers acknowledged part of the crackdown is fueled by growing frustrations over the wage dispute.

The Buffalo News disclosed last week that officers wrote 5,610 tickets in January, compared with 1,920 in January last year.


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