BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A peaceful community forum between leaders in Buffalo and Erie County and members of the community attempted to bridge the gap between upset citizens and police officers Tuesday evening at the Mount Olive Baptist Church on East Delavan.
People voiced their concern about checks and balances with police. They’re asking who watches the police, especially if police don’t record their actions.
Early on, the forum was heated. People voiced chants saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Forum attendants filled out yellow question sheets, which were read in front of the forum.
If the forum were more successful, the entire forum would have flowed that way. But the question and response process broke down as those that chanted to start the meeting became impatient as it progressed.
Samuel Herbert knew those actions didn’t represent the majority of people at the forum.
“There’s a lot of intelligent people that came, yet we have these ignorant individuals who will step up and speak out the way they have,” Herbert said. “If you can’t say anything constructive then don’t say anything at all.”
Those like Herbert who came to create positive change were frustrated, and said they hope to work towards those goals with city officials in the future. In the meanwhile, Buffalo Police commissioner Daniel Derenda stressed that the best way to keep checks and balances even is to report any bad behavior.
“We don’t tolerate it, but we need to know about it,” Derenda said. “Someone feels that they’re wronged they should file a complaint; we’ll investigate it.”
People that showed up say it was good to see city leaders all in one place addressing the issues.
“Everyone who makes decisions [was present]. That was one of the most important things for me to see tonight that I’ve never seen tonight under one roof,” Herbert said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown stressed throughout the meeting that ideas which came out of Tuesday’s forum would eventually be used to enhance training for Buffalo’s police officers.