Use of “Negro” in police booking system stirs controversy

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lockport Police are responding to a controversial term that appears during the booking process.

“Negro Dark” appears as a description in a drop down box about complexion in a computer program used by officers filling out information on a suspect. A few days ago, that description was seen on a picture that went out to the media, stirring up debate.

Mark Sanders is a reverend, a community organizer, and also works at the police department teaching officers in Lockport about cultural diversity. He posted this question to the Lockport Police Facebook page: Is the word “Negro” an offensive word or just an outdated word?

Most said it’s outdated.

“If an 80-year-old man referred to me as a ‘nice young negro man,’ I wouldn’t be offended,” said Sanders. “He’s showing his age he’s showing his generation.”

Frank Mesiah, the president of the NAACP in Buffalo, says management should have taken action sooner.

“They should have known that is unacceptable but then to go ahead with the program, you’re just maintaining that which was a negative,” he argued.

Lockport Police Chief Lawrence Eggert says the term will no longer be in the system.

When looking through the records over the past few years, Sanders told WIVB “Negro” was only used a handful of times to describe a suspect’s complexion. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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