The Buffalo Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization elected an interim chairman Thursday evening.
Ricky M. Allen Sr., a University District resident and business owner, received the votes of eight of the 15 commission members at the panel's first meeting, held in the Common Council Conference Room of City Hall.
The commission later will select permanent officers and establish subcommittees and rules of operation.
The panel consists of a diverse group of neighborhood activists, business owners, retired law enforcement personnel and even two current law enforcement officers, each selected by a Common Council member or Mayor Byron W. Brown to sit on the committee.
South Council Member Michael P. Kearns, who attended Thursday's meeting, said the commission is charged with reviewing the organizational structure of the Buffalo Police Department, evaluating its strengths and weaknesses, and coming up with a plan that uses police resources efficiently and maximizes efforts at community policing.
The committee members will not be paid, nor will the committee be allowed to incur expenses. The committee is a public body subject to the state's Open Meetings Law and will be required to submit quarterly reports to the Common Council.
"You should all be commended for expending your valuable time, for being involved in what is probably the most important issue to all of us citizens throughout the City of Buffalo, and that is public safety," Council President David A. Franczyk told the panel Thursday.
Those appointed to the committee include former Erie County Sheriff Thomas F. Higgins and former Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson. Both, Franczyk said, bring a wealth of knowledge about law enforcement.
The committee is scheduled to meet again at 6 p.m. next Thursday in Room 1417 of City Hall.