Buffalo, N.Y. — Masten District Common Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo, Sr. hosted a Masten District Town Hall meeting titled “Can You Hear Me Now 716?” on the evening of Tuesday, August 16 at Burgard High School. This community forum offered space for heart-felt and honest dialogue between the community and law enforcement.
“With the recent events that have been circulating the airwaves which have adversely impacting the nation’s perceptions of law enforcement, it is paramount that The City of Good Neighbors have a town meeting stressing the importance of understanding,” said Wingo in advance of the event. “We will discuss what measures we can take to make the relationship between civilians and law enforcement more meaningful and reciprocal.”
Co-hosting “Can You Hear Me Now 716?” was Franchelle Hart, Executive Director of Open Buffalo. In the spring of 2016, Open Buffalo, a community movement for social and economic justice, conducted an extensive community survey that captured unfiltered public perceptions of policing and public safety in Buffalo. “We understand that communication is key in building or repairing any relationship,” Hart said. “This past spring, we collected over 2,000 community surveys; in four different languages in order to begin a dialogue on how the community can establish trusting relationships with law enforcement. When trust is built, both the community and law enforcement will be safer.”
Tuesday’s session offered space for a diverse array of voices ranging from law enforcement, clergy members, and civilians. It was an open forum where questions were asked, answers were given, and solutions were explored.
“Let’s come together as a community so that a clear understanding and sense of trust is formed and maintained between law enforcement and citizens,” said Wingo. “Here in Buffalo, we will strive to continue to be the example our nation can follow.”
At the session’s conclusion, Wingo and Hart committed to following up with policy proposals to enhance community policing practices in Buffalo and to spread the findings and recommendations of a soon-to-be-released Open Buffalo report about community policing through a series of similar public engagements and forums.