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Police advisory panel fine-tunes citywide survey

A Buffalo police advisory commission that has vowed to bring true community policing to the city is on the verge of sending out a public satisfaction survey and also looking to have its mission extended until next March.

At the same time, the interim chairman of the Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization insisted Thursday night that despite what some police officials may believe, the panel's role is not to conduct a witchhunt in the Police Department.

"We're not here to look at the Buffalo Police Department in any way, other than to improve [operations]," said Joseph Mascia, the commission's interim chairman.

The 15-member commission -- which has faced controversy and resignations in the aftermath of the March arrest of its former interim chairman, Ricky M. Allen Sr., on drug charges -- fine-tuned a three-page survey that will be distributed citywide beginning in May.

The survey's objective is to gauge the community on what can be done to improve police operations. It will eventually be posted on a City of Buffalo website link through the commission's Facebook page.

"The is just one step," Mascia said during the commission's monthly meeting in City Hall. "We are going to have public forums. My theory is to touch everybody's needs. I know we'll all roll up our sleeves to get to work."

Mascia later said the city's attempt at community policing needs to move beyond its infancy. "We need to get all officers trained for community policing -- not just 20 guys," he said.

Commission member Sean O'Brien, a police officer, said the biggest problem with enhancing community policing is a lack of manpower.

"The No. 1 problem we are facing is whether the city is willing to put more [people] on the job," he said.

The commission's next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 26 in Room 1417 of City Hall. Mascia said he expects two more members to be appointed to the panel.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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