Largely unremarked in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s rally in Buffalo on Monday, but richly deserving of notice, was the role played by law enforcement. Officers, including Buffalo police and Erie County sheriff’s deputies, were exemplary in their performance. They allowed protests to take place, but kept control of what could otherwise have devolved into dangerous confrontation and even violence.
It takes training and patience to deal constructively with angry people under any circumstance. But for police on Monday night, those people included protesters who transferred their disdain for Trump to the police officers who were summoned out in force to keep the peace. That’s what they did, sometimes with humor, sometimes merely by their presence and sometimes with appropriate force.
“People have their rights to speak and protest, but we were not going to tolerate any criminal activity,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said the following day.
“The professionalism and training of all the officers involved really showed, even at times when it was intense,” Derenda said. “They really did a good job.”
Praise, of a sort, even came from one of the protesters. Colleen Kristich, 26, was among about two dozen protesters who managed to get inside First Niagara Center Monday night in an effort to disrupt the rally. Even though she was dragged out of the arena by sheriff’s deputies, she said that they were not rough with her or any of the other protesters.
It’s not an easy job, but these officers met the challenge with the kind of professionalism that police need to show routinely. It engenders respect and encourages the trust of the community. Around the country, including Buffalo, police have come under criticism for mistreating citizens. In some communities, such as Ferguson, Mo., and Chicago, entire departments have been shown to be at odds with the people they are sworn to protect. It’s a problem.
In Buffalo Monday night, it wasn’t. All the police agencies involved – also including State Police, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and the Amherst and Town of Tonawanda police departments – showed off policing at its best, and under trying conditions. They deserve the community’s thanks.