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City hopes new initiative will lead to more minority police officers

Buffalo officials on Monday announced a new initiative aimed at making the city’s Police Department more racially diverse.

City residents will be offered “pre-employment scholarships” to Erie County’s Police Training Academy in order to better prepare them for the city’s civil service police officer exam.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda made the announcement in the heart of the city’s African-American community on the East Side, explaining that the goal is to make the department more reflective of minorities, women and immigrants.

At present, there are more than 700 city police officers and about 30 percent of them are minorities. The racial makeup of Buffalo is roughly 46.2 percent white, 36.9 percent black, 9.7 percent Hispanic and 3.8 percent Asian.

“We believe this program is a first in the country. We call it BPD 21C and that stands for the Buffalo Police Department 21st Century. It’s a strategy to recruit a 21st century Police Department that will reflect the diversity of the City of Buffalo,” Brown said at Mount Olive Baptist Church on the 700 block of East Delavan Avenue.

Buffalo is in a good position to carry out the program since a recently approved police union contract requires that all new officers reside in the city for the first seven years of their employment, the mayor said.

Twenty-four percent of the department is female and a number of those officers are also minorities.

The scholarship will be offered to as many as 50 individuals and is valued at about $6,800 apiece. That covers tuition at the county training academy, uniforms and textbooks.

Free applications for the scholarship are available at, and must be completed and filed by Nov. 13. Written assessment screenings will begin Nov. 21 and those selected will start the 20-week course at the county academy Jan. 18.

This type of pre-employment training, the mayor said, will put scholarship graduates in a much better position to pass the city’s civil service exam for police officer. Graduates who pass the exam and are hired for the police force will not have to attend the training academy a second time, speeding up hirings, the mayor added.

The only training graduates will need will involve firearms and homeland security, Brown said, explaining that those curriculums are not part of the scholarship.