Now that the mayor has nominated a new police commissioner, it is up to the Buffalo Common Council to do its due diligence in vetting a candidate who surely seems to have the right stuff.
Members should consider his vision for the department and strategies in implementing policies from body cameras to pursuing accreditation, both of which Mayor Byron W. Brown mentioned as priorities.
They can start by looking at how the past month has gone. Byron C. Lockwood has been filling the role on an interim basis since Jan. 17, one day after former Commissioner Daniel Derenda, 58, retired.
Lockwood, 59, is a 34-year veteran of the department. If confirmed, he should maintain and extend policies set in place by his predecessor. In particular, he should continue along the path of professionalizing the department and improving community relations. The mayor mentioned moving forward on priorities such as state accreditation, the body camera study and looking at using Tasers, which could sometimes be used instead of firearms.
Lockwood’s background indicates an ability to handle these tasks, and more. He oversaw disciplinary proceedings in the department. He was promoted to first deputy commissioner in 2010, and has a history with the mayor whom he has known since the mid-1990s.
Lockwood joined the Police Department in 1984. In 1992, he was promoted to detective and assigned to the intelligence unit. He then served in various roles: street crimes unit and the narcotics, vice and homicide squads before being promoted in 1996 to detective sergeant. He was then transferred to the now-dubbed Ferry-Fillmore District where he was in charge of the detective unit. Most recently he was promoted to deputy commissioner.
Even more impressive is his community presence, from serving on the board of directors at the former YMCA on East Ferry Street to the time he takes to speak at local schools, encouraging young people to pursue careers in law enforcement.
The Common Council must ensure the next police commissioner has all the qualities to keep the department moving in the right direction. Lockwood may well be that person, but the Council has a duty to make sure of that.