January 15 was a festive day at the Merriweather Library on Buffalo’s East Side as PPG partners gathered to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and to roll out the 2016 Community Agenda. Each year, PPG’s partners craft agenda planks and then vote on their top ten. This year, a three-way tie for tenth place resulted in a 12-plank agenda, featuring planks such as public financing for city elections, fair treatment for juveniles accused of crimes, and better language access for immigrants and refugees. The Buffalo News and WBFO provided good coverage. Now, PPG and its partners will schedule visits with all local elected officials to ask for their commitment to the planks.
PPG's "Community-Oriented Policing" plank correlates with Open Buffalo's Community-Oriented Policing campaign. In introducing this plank, OB Executive Director Franchelle Hart delivered the following remarks:
Some names on this list should be familiar to each of you in this room. Some of them should spark emotion. They should remind you of families enduring unspeakable grief, of overflowing community outrage, and of a widening divide between communities of color and those who are sworn to protect them.
Following the news of these deaths, and the eruptions that follow them, some might believe that while violent clashes between police and communities of color are tragic, they are only occasional, isolated incidents. Wrong.
The truth is that these lost souls are connected. Ineffective and outdated systems of law enforcement are largely to blame for the distance, the distrust, and the tensions between residents and police. From New York City, to Baltimore, to Ferguson, to right here in the City of Buffalo.
You might be wondering:
“Where is there hope?” and “What can we do to fix this?”
Open Buffalo, and our allies in the community, including PPG, see a path to safe and harmonious neighborhood life through the implementation of comprehensive Community-Oriented Policing.
What is Community-Oriented Policing?
- Think of more positive face-to-face interactions between police and residents on Buffalo’s East Side.
- Think of mandated cutting-edge training for officers in cultural competency, de-escalation, and community outreach.
- Think of more community members feeling safe and empowered to cooperate with criminal investigations – raising Buffalo Police’s case closure rate.
- Think of more widespread belief that “justice” is more than just an ideal – that it is real and attainable.
- Think of a safer Buffalo for all to live in, to visit, or to raise a family.
Achieving a Community-Oriented Policing policy and culture shift is not easy, by any means. But we are ready to roll up our sleeves to fight for what is right. We in the Open Buffalo Network are grateful that in 2016 we will have continued technical support from Partnership for the Public Good.
PPG’s action research will help us in 3 key ways this year:
- One, it will enable us to educate the community on what Community-Oriented Policing looks like, and how it can change their lives. Please visit OpenBuffalo.org and join our mailing list to find out about upcoming Community Talks and House Parties about community policing!
- Secondly, PPG will help to shine light on policing practices that currently go unrecorded in Buffalo – including the “stop and frisk” style stops, for suspected trespassing, that are prevalent in Buffalo’s Public Housing.
- Third, PPG researchers will help us to document best practices in policing around the globe, and conceive of credible, and affordable, policy reforms for law enforcement in Buffalo.
Please stay in touch with Open Buffalo in the coming months as we take to neighborhoods throughout the City to grow awareness about Community-Oriented Policing. No one in this room, or in this city can afford to sit by and accept the status quo. We are one run-in away from adding a name to that list.