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Lockwood faces sticky issues after being named police commissioner

Police body cameras. Tasers for officers. Getting the Police Department accredited.

Those are some of the challenges facing Byron C. Lockwood after he was appointed Thursday as Buffalo police commissioner.

Mayor Byron W. Brown made the announcement during his 2018 State of the City address in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The appointment now goes to the Common Council for confirmation.

While there are “any number of senior officers” who could be named commissioner, Brown said Lockwood, 59, “has a wealth of policing experience.

“He has the respect of the men and women in the Police Department, the respect of the union, and I’m confident that he will do a tremendous job of moving our Police Department forward and bringing all of the 21st century strategies, techniques and tools for policing into our department.”

Lockwood is a 34-year veteran of the department. He was appointed interim police commissioner Jan. 17 to replace former Commissioner Daniel Derenda, who retired.

Brown said he has asked Lockwood and the management team to hit the ground running.

“They will move forward on a number of priorities like state accreditation, the body camera study that we’re doing, looking at (using) tasers, coming up with new units,” Brown said. “So all of that work is moving forward in a very positive and aggressive fashion ... I feel very confident in his leadership and the direction that the Buffalo Police Department is going in.”

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Council President Darius G. Pridgen said later Thursday that he didn’t want to speak for all of his colleagues yet, but “generally I have not heard any opposition at this point to the mayor’s nomination of Byron Lockwood.”

At least two other Council members don’t think Lockwood will have a problem getting approved, although they would like to hear his ideas for the department.

“I don’t know him very well. I’m looking forward to having a sit-down with him in my office for a one-on-one chat,” said David A. Franczyk, who represents the Fillmore District.

“I’ve seen him at meetings in Council chambers. His resume looks good. Looks like he’s got a long, illustrious career,” he said.

The longtime councilman said he was much more familiar with Derenda, whom he had known since 1986. At the time, Derenda and his family lived in Franczyk’s district.

“Dan and his dad came in and his dad said, ‘My son wants to be a police officer,’ " Franczyk said. “So I called (former mayor Jimmy) Griffin for him.”

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Lovejoy Council Member Richard A. Fontana said he doesn’t have a working relationship with Lockwood either, not because there were any problems with Lockwood. It’s just that he was more familiar with Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Beaty, who had been captain of the E District police station on Bailey Avenue in Fontana’s district, and with Derenda because he was the commissioner.

“He was more on the technical side,” Fontana said of Lockwood. “He’s reached out to me, but I haven’t spoken to him much.”

Fontana said he is looking to hear from Lockwood about “new, innovative approaches,” particularly in terms of dealing with larcenies in the city.

“I’m not looking for the answer to be ‘no’ all the time. I want to hear ‘yes, we can try that’ sometimes,” Fontana said.

Lockwood would replace Derenda, 58, who retired Jan. 16 after 32 years in the Police Department, seven as commissioner. Soon after, Derenda become general manager of G4S Secure Solutions’ Buffalo office.

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Lockwood, who oversaw disciplinary proceedings in the department and was promoted to first deputy commissioner in 2010, has known Brown since the mayor’s early days in elective office, when Brown won the Masten District Council seat in the mid-1990s.

He joined the Police Department on Jan. 30, 1984. In 1992, he was promoted to detective and assigned to the intelligence unit. He also served in the street crimes unit and the narcotics, vice and homicide squads at different points before his promotion in 1996 to detective sergeant.

At that time, he transferred to what is now the Ferry-Fillmore District and headed the detective unit there, before becoming deputy commissioner.

A graduate of East High School, Lockwood has a liberal arts associate’s degree from Erie Community College. He has been active in the community over the years, serving on the board of directors at the former YMCA on East Ferry Street.

He also served as president of the Afro-American Police Association of Buffalo from 1993 to 1997. Several years ago, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Law Enforcement from Medaille College. He also speaks at local schools to encourage youngsters to pursue careers in law enforcement.

In addition, Lockwood is a sponsor of the WNY Bills Little League football organization.

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