BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The City of Buffalo is looking for someone new to lead the police department now that Commissioner Daniel Derenda has retired.
“He has served the city well, he’s managed the police department well and I wish him well in his next venture,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
Derenda leaves BPD after seven and a half years in the top position. He started as a city officer three decades ago and will now move onto the private sector.
“He told me some time ago he was considering it and I was fine with that,” said Mayor Brown.
The Mayor told News 4 he learned in the last few days Derenda would retire now.
“This was absolutely the decision of Commissioner Derenda to retire,” he said.
We asked if Mayor Brown tried to convince him to stay.
He replied, “I wanted Commissioner Derenda to do what was best for him and his family.”
Mayor Brown has appointed First Deputy Commissioner Byron Lockwood as the interim commissioner. Lockwood has spent the past 12 years in a leadership position and has been with the department for more than 30 years. He grew up on Buffalo’s east side in the Ellicott Mall Projects.
He’s served in the intelligence, street crime, narcotics, vice and homicide units. Lockwood is also the sponsor of the Western New York Bills Little League Football Organization.
Mayor Brown has 180 days to decide who will fill the job permanently but wouldn’t say who he’ll appoint.
“My anticipation is we will make a selection from within the department,” he said.
Common Council President Darius Pridgen said he anticipates a candidate will be decided in the next week.
“I fully expect that the Mayor will file the paperwork with the city clerk, in order to get the process moving to interview Deputy Commissioner Lockwood, and possibly confirm him at next Tuesday’s meeting,” said Pridgen.
Pridgen told News 4 that Derenda’s retirement was a surprise.
Just last week, the Council reconfirmed him to his position, at the mayor’s recommendation.
“There was no indication, at least I had no indication, that he would be leaving at all in the Mayor’s term,” said Pridgen.
He called Derenda’s retirement a loss to the community. Pridgen hopes the next commissioner will prioritize developing trust the community.
“One of the priorities I would like to see or hear from the commissioner, the proposed commissioner, is his take on how to solve more crimes, especially homicides, but especially how to connect to the community better,” said Pridgen.
Pastor James Giles works closely with the police department in his work to steer young people away from violence though Back to Basics Outreach Ministries.
“The department has made some very market strides in developing community relationships,” said Giles. “Our hope is the next commissioner, whoever that might be, is equally outreaching and trying to work with community based organizations like Commissioner Derenda has been.”
Giles told us that just two months ago he was meeting with Derenda about a new program that would help low level offenders connect with service agencies instead of going to jail.
Mayor Brown told us he plans to take his time deciding who will take the job permanently.