The City of Buffalo has updated its proposed police reform plan. Some Buffalo Common Council Members and community activists said that should have already happened.
“We should’ve had this weeks ago,” University District Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt said. “This was too important to wait till the last minute.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the city could lose state funding if the Common Council does not approve reforms by Thursday, April 1st. Cuomo’s executive order requires local governments and police agencies in NYS to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their communities.
A spokesperson for the city said the updated plan will be released Tuesday.
Council President Darius Pridgen said the public needs to vet the plan. He wants to set up a special meeting before any vote.
“I will not vote yes on a plan this massively important until the people of this great city have a chance to hear and talk back to the administration, to be explained why certain things are not there,” he said.
A spokesperson for the city said the resolution takes into account additional recommendations from the five day public comment period.
As of early Monday evening he had not seen the new plan. Pridgen and other Council Members said they found out there was an updated police reform plan shortly before their caucus meeting Monday afternoon.
“If we get to a point where we can not vote on it and the funding is effected, so be it,” Wyatt said. “Because at the end of the day, I’m not going to be put in a corner for something that I didn’t have legitimate time, nor given a legitimate time to let there be a hearing from the public. The public should’ve had an opportunity to speak to this, and we were put in a, this was a manipulation.”
The city spokesperson said council members were told the plan could be updated based on comments, and that two Council Members were part of the Commission and had opportunities to brief their colleagues.
Whitney Walker is the Executive Director of Voice Buffalo. She said one thing missing from the initial plan was a citizen advisory board to hold police accountable.
“If we really want to re-imagine policing in Buffalo, as the report dictates it’s trying to do, then the right thing to do is involve community in that process together and that’s not something that happens within 72 hours,” Walker said.
Walker said she does not want to see funding taken away, but would like amendments added so that progress can continue after April 1st.
In Monday’s Common Council Caucus Meeting, Masten District Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo, Sr. expressed his support for approving the reform plan.
“We are going to approve the resolution,” Wingo said. “This report is just being filed as a step in the process so that we are not penalized as a municipality so that we don’t miss our funding.”
Pridgen said he disagrees with those who see the plan as something that can be amended after its sent to the state.
“This is a one-time plan being sent to the Governor of the State of New York,” Pridgen said. “And to then say ‘we can come back later,’ do you think that the public trust that will come back later if everything gets quiet, they don’t,” he said. “And whether we will or not, the public doesn’t trust that.”
Christian Parra with Citizen Action Western New York said he hopes the second version includes community recommendations, but is concerned there’s not enough time for input. 7 Eyewitness News asked if he wants to see the council vote on the plan.
“I would like the council to step up and say this is not enough reform for the City of Buffalo for their residents to be safe because that’s exactly what it is,” Parra said.
The city said a representative from the Mayor’s administration will attend a counsel meeting.