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Police suspend 6 in internal probe; Officers accused of leaving work early

Four Central District police officers and two lieutenants were suspended Thursday pending formal internal disciplinary charges after they allegedly skipped out of work early Wednesday night, law enforcement sources revealed to The Buffalo News.

Authorities from the Buffalo Police Internal Affairs Unit led by Deputy Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood, acting on a tip, arrived at the Central District station in the Theater District at about 10:30 p.m. and found the six were not at work, the source said. Their shifts ended at 2 a.m.

It was determined they had left early in what is colloquially known in the department as a "slide" -- when a supervising officer releases subordinates prior to the end of their shifts. As a result, the officers and their lieutenants were suspended.

They will remain suspended with pay until formal charges are filed. That is expected early next week. The names of those suspended are being withheld pending departmental charges.

Meanwhile, Buffalo police brass refused to comment officially on the investigation late Thursday.

"The department can't comment on an internal investigation at this time," said Michael J. DeGeorge, department spokesman.

Mayor Byron W. Brown, however, when contacted by The News, said he was aware of the investigation and supports Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda's initiative to strengthen Internal Affairs and eradicate the practice of "slides" in the Police Department.

Brown said that he was briefed by Derenda and Lockwood and that they were investigating allegations that police officers "were being allowed to leave early and still getting paid."

"Certainly, if these allegations are true, this type of behavior is totally unacceptable," the mayor said. "If police officers were being assigned to work, and being paid to work, they should have been where they were assigned to be."

He added: "The city has a very hardworking police force. They do a great job. When we find employees, however, that are doing something they're not supposed to do, we're going to follow up on it and take swift action."

It's unclear how common the practice of "slides" is in the department. However, the term was referenced numerous times Thursday on an unofficial, yet popular, law enforcement blog.

Wrote one: "We haven't had the slide for at least a year, you [people] that got busted are just stupid. Word has been out for long time, stop the slide just stupid, what did you expect, when the boss says don't do it, and you do it anyway, you force him to be the boss."

Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President Lt. Robert P. Meegan, Jr. was unavailable to comment on the suspensions late Thursday.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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