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Buffalo Police puts on hold plan to change some detective shifts

A plan to change the shifts of some detectives in the Buffalo Police Department has been put on hold after concerns were raised by the police union, according to department officials.

The department wanted to schedule all detectives in the Narcotics Unit and all detectives assigned to each of city's five police districts to work day shifts, eliminating other shifts for those investigators, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said.

The planned change would have affected the work schedule of about 20 detectives, Rinaldo said. It would not have applied to detectives who work in other units, such as the Sex Offense Squad and the Homicide Unit, he said.

The administration of Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood believes the move would have been a more effective deployment of resources, Rinaldo said.

The planned changes were to have gone into effect Jan. 15 but are now on hold.

The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association raised objections to the plan but says it has other concerns, including what it described as the elimination of some detective positions and a captain's job in the South District, which covers South Buffalo.

But police brass say no detective jobs are being eliminated – jobs vacated through attrition are being added to other units.

That isn't exactly true, either, according to PBA President John Evans. Evans said the department, through attrition, cut three narcotics detectives and two homicide detectives.

"They just cut those positions," he said. "They didn't move them or anything."

The job eliminations were posted by the department, and no new jobs have been posted, he said.

The administration did move an auto-theft detective to the department's recently formed unit focused on nonfatal shootings, known as the Gun Assault Investigations Team, or GAIT, Evans said.

Police brass plan to announce a series of promotions Thursday. The department will be taking two homicide detective positions and seven narcotics detective positions and adding them to GAIT, Rinaldo said.

The department called the package of personnel changes part of a "manpower shift" it is allowed to make twice a year under the collective bargaining agreement with the union.

The union doesn't see it as a manpower issue, but rather a "shift issue," and it has filed a grievance, which it plans to take to arbitration sometime possibly in April or May, Evans said.

Department officials said that with detectives in some areas only working day shifts, investigators would be brought in on overtime, if need be, after their shifts ended. There are about 90 police detectives in the department, according to Rinaldo.

But the PBA president said he suspects detectives wouldn't end up getting called in, as a way for the department to cut back on paying overtime.

In addition to the issue over detectives' shifts, police brass wanted to take a captain from the South District and move the job to another district.

After some concerns came out publicly, including from the office of South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon, the department is revising that plan, Rinaldo said.

The police department said only the South District and the Northeast District have two captains assigned, while the other three districts only have one captain. That position, Rinaldo said, is an administrative one that does not respond to calls.

Evans said he believes the South District is the only one in the department without two shift captains. He called it an important job and described a captain as being the one who makes decisions on when to call in detectives.

Periodically, the department chooses to shift resources based on the number of calls for service seen in different parts of the city, Rinaldo said. The union contract allows those manpower shifts to take place by Jan. 15 and July 15.

As of Wednesday, there were six detectives and a detective sergeant assigned to GAIT, the unit assigned to investigate nonfatal shootings. Those investigators are assigned to work day shifts, Rinaldo said.

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