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Police reorganizers may seek help; '91 study group seen as resource

Members of the Joint Police Reorganization Commission on Thursday discussed seeking outside help in its ongoing review of Buffalo Police Department operations.

The International Association of Police Chiefs conducted the last review of the Police Department 20 years ago and could be a vital resource in helping the commission with its current review, said Terry O'Neill, a commission member who tracked down a copy of the 1991 report.

He promised to make copies of the report available to other commission members soon.

"A group of distinguished police executives from around the country came here and spent nearly two years surveying the Buffalo Police Department. In 1991, they delivered to the city 'Policing Buffalo in the '90s: A Study of the Management and Operations of the Buffalo Police Department,' " O'Neill said.

"This document is an excellent guide for what a proper, professionally done management study of the Buffalo Police Department should look like," he added.

Commission Chairman Joseph Mascia backed the idea of seeking assistance from the authors of the 1991 Buffalo Police Department study.

"We want to bring in this professional group to help finalize our plan and put it together so it can be submitted to the [Common] Council and the [mayor's] administration," Mascia said after Thursday's meeting.

O'Neill described the 1991 study as extremely comprehensive, containing more than 200 recommendations for improving the operations of the Police Department.

The study included recommendations for more intermunicipal cooperation among local police agencies, which O'Neill suggested, helped the department to more effectively tackle the burgeoning crack cocaine epidemic in the city in the 1990s.

O'Neill is director of the Constantine Institute, a think tank based in Albany, where he resides.

He was appointed to the Joint Police Reorganization Commission by South Council Member Michael P. Kearns.

He commutes to Buffalo for the commission's monthly meetings at his own expense, Mascia said.

O'Neill also prompted discussion of enhancing the means for the Buffalo Police Department to pursue community policing more vigorously. He suggested the city apply for federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant funds. Mascia said the commission will recommend that action to Mayor Byron W. Brown and the Common Council.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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