Buffalo police Lt. Kevin J. Brinkworth, who once arrested a shooting suspect at gunpoint, has been given a new challenge: to curb violence in city schools.
Brinkworth, a decorated 20-year veteran of the force, has been named the department's new chief of school safety and security. He was promoted from his position as a patrol lieutenant in the Ferry-Fillmore Police District.
Mayor Byron W. Brown, Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson and School Superintendent James A. Williams announced the appointment Tuesday during a news conference.
"It's going to be a challenge," Brinkworth told the audience. "We're starting from ground zero here. These students are bringing their conflicts and grievances into these schools."
Brinkworth also will be in charge of developing a school safety plan, streamlining and improving communications between schools and the Police Department and trying to help prevent violence from spilling into the schools from surrounding neighborhoods. He will act as a liaison with the school principal.
"We're working on developing a plan to address school violence and ensure the safety of students," Gipson said. "This position will allow us to have someone focus on the schools and develop a comprehensive plan to foster the relationship and cooperation with the Buffalo police and Buffalo Public Schools."
Williams, who told the audience that "violence is down in the Buffalo Public School system," said he and the mayor came up with the idea of creating a new chief during discussions that began last October.
The new job follows several fist fights and violent acts that have erupted inside city schools this year.
Brinkworth's new position -- which was created by an amendment to the City Charter in October -- expands the number of police chiefs from six to seven. With a salary of $84,771, Brinkworth will have one office in Police Headquarters and another office at the Buffalo Board of Education inside City Hall. Police Inspector Joseph Strano has been serving as interim chief of school safety for about the past seven months.
Authorities said Brinkworth's position is not designed to replace any school administrator. An additional five security members will soon be added to the 45-member school security staff, said Williams.
Brinkworth was one of four officers given an Officer of the Month citation in 1995 for actions in responding to a call of a man shot in the vicinity of Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street. A search by several officers yielded a vehicle used in the shooting, resulting in the arrest of the felony suspect, at gunpoint, by Brinkworth and Sal Juste two days later. Brinkworth, who is also a practicing real estate attorney, said his new role will be entirely different from his years fighting crime on city streets.
"I want to try to bring some order back to the schools and respect back for the police and teachers," said Brinkworth. "I want to make it a safe environment for the kids who want to learn."