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Buffalo lawmakers re-examine police use of force policy, fired officer's pension

Buffalo lawmakers re-examine police use of force policy, fired officer's pension

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The Buffalo Common Council Tuesday approved a resolution ordering the police department to enforce and inform officers about the "duty to intervene" to protect citizens from the use of unnecessary force by fellow officers. "The duty to intervene is already on the books. However, it does not seem at times it is being followed," said Buffalo Common Council president Darius Pridgen. (News file photo)

The Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved three resolutions related to the city's police force in the wake of protests in Buffalo and across the country over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, police brutality and institutionalized racism.

South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon also asked Niagara Council Member David Rivera, chairman of the Council’s Police Oversight Committee, to call an emergency meeting requiring Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, Deputy Commissioners Barbara Lark and Joseph Gramaglia and other police leaders to attend.

“As the days go on, I find myself with more questions than answers," Scanlon said. "We have heard the public rallying cries of the need for police reform, yet we seem to only be given a vague understanding of the command structure and leadership makeup of the Buffalo Police Department,” Scanlon wrote in a letter to the Council.

Rivera said he will work to schedule a meeting within the next two weeks.

One of the resolutions the Council approved Tuesday asks Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration to enforce and train police officers on the city's "duty to intervene" policy, which requires officers to protect citizens from the unnecessary use of force committed by fellow officers.

"The duty to intervene is already on the books. However, it does not seem at times it is being followed," said Council President Darius G. Pridgen.

Council members want the policy to be reviewed, amended as needed and every police officer trained again on the policy within the next 30 days, Pridgen said.

A second resolution establishes a task force of representatives from the Council's Police Oversight Committee and other "relevant" departments or agencies to review "all of the policies currently of the Buffalo Police force ... so that we are able to bring a reform agenda forward," Pridgen said.

Another resolution asks the New York State Attorney General's Office to investigate attendance records of former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne to determine how many days of work Horne needs to qualify for a pension.

"There is a dispute between the dates she said should be counted," Pridgen has said.

Horne, who has been vocal at many of this week's protests, had a 2006 on-duty confrontation with a fellow officer during a violent arrest. Horne, who is black, claimed the white officer was choking a black defendant whom officers were placing under arrest. The other officer alleged Horne jumped on his back while he was trying to subdue the man, who the other officers said escalated a dispute with his ex-girlfriend over a $626 Social Security check into a violent struggle.

Horne was fired in 2008 following an internal affairs review and a disciplinary proceeding. A jury in 2012 found no wrongdoing by the five Buffalo police officers the black defendant sued in civil court for false arrest and battery. The jury, made up of five whites and one black, voted, 5-1, in favor of the police officers. The only juror who sided with the defendant was a black female juror.

Horne had 19 years on the job, one year short of getting her pension.

The Council also asked the state Attorney General's Office to open an investigation or inquiry into the incident.

 

Fired Buffalo police officer looks to Common Council for pension benefits

The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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