By Jill Terreri
The Common Council's Police Oversight Committee is preparing for its first meeting next week, and Chairman David Rivera made clear today what the committee will not do. It won't investigate officers or reveal details of matters that could turn into a lawsuit for the city, he said.
"Our goal is not to investigate police officers," said Rivera, who is also a former officer. "Our goal is to assist them."
The department is in the midst of turmoil over several unrelated incidents involving officers.
In the wake of a disturbing cell phone video of an officer assaulting a man in handcuffs and an unrelated incident in a bar that left a man in a coma in which two officers were present, many Council members did not see a reason to revive the long-dormant committee. They changed their opinion last week.
The panel will meet at 11 a.m. June 10 in Council Chambers, and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda is scheduled to attend, Rivera said. In addition to Rivera, the committee includes Council President Darius Pridgen and Council Members Rasheed Wyatt, Michael LoCurto and Richard Fontana. The committee could grow if more lawmakers choose to join.
Rivera stressed today that the panel won't investigate citizen complaints. Instead, the committee will focus on questions of police procedure and training, such as whether seizure of recording devices held by bystanders is acceptable. (In most cases it is not, Derenda has told the Council.)
"Our goal is more policy and procedure," Rivera said, adding that he wants to see the relationship between the public and the department become stronger.
"We want the public to know the vast majority of the Police Department do a great job," Rivera said. "That confidence has been undermined."
taggedCity of Buffalo | Common Council | David Rivera | Michael LoCurto | Rasheed Wyatt | Rich Fontana