The NYCLU conducted an exhaustive inquiry into the policies of each police department. Through our interaction we have found that the Buffalo Police Department:
- Resisted efforts to provide basic information on police practices. The NYCLU had to bring the Buffalo Police Department to court in order to get responses to the overwhelming majority of our public information requests.
- Initially tried to hide use of force reports by claiming that state law made that information secret as part of its officers’ personnel records. The NYCLU fought back in court, but for most people, suing a police department to obtain basic information isn’t feasible.
- Uses language in a section on “Constitutional Guarantees” suggesting that constitutional rights only extend to “citizens.” The New York and U.S. Constitutions protect citizens and non-citizens alike.
- Did not appear to have any policies specifically addressing bias-based profiling by its officers.
Policy Spotlight: Bias-Based Policing
The disproportionate impact of policing abuses against certain communities, particularly communities of color, has been at the center of national conversations about police reform. Bias-based policing erodes trust between police and communities, weakens public safety, and can result in daily violations of people’s constitutional rights to be free from discrimination, but the Buffalo Police Department didn’t provide us with any policies aimed at preventing this. Police department policies need to embrace clear commitments to the prevention and elimination of bias. Departments must have policies that prohibit differential treatment by officers motivated by factors like a person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, citizenship status, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or housing status. And once these policies are in place, department leaders need to hold officers who engage in bias-based practices accountable.
You can learn more about the policies by clicking the cards below.
Documents received by July 2016.