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This Fact About The Buffalo Police Department Will Surprise You

News of police-involved shootings seems to dominate our news feeds. Have you ever wondered how the Buffalo Police Department ranks against other municipalities when it comes to fatalities from an officer-involved shooting?

As it turns out, the Buffalo Police Department responded to over 2 million calls over a span of more than four years without an officer-involved shooting fatality.

That record came to an end on May 7, 2017 when Jose Hernandez-Rossy was fatally shot by Officer Justin Tedesco during a traffic stop in Black Rock. According to WIVB’s original reporting on the incident: “During the stop there was a struggle which led to one officer being shot in the head, specifically the ear, by the suspect. The officer’s ear was saved. The second officer then fired at the suspect striking him in the arm/shoulder area.”

So how did the BPD manage to go such a length of time without an officer-involved fatality? That’s the subject of a fascinating feature done by CNN called “The Trigger and the Choice.” You can read the entire piece here.

Journalist Thomas Lake interviewed several police officers in the BPD, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, Mayor Byron Brown, and Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

In case you think four years without an officer-involved fatality isn’t a good streak, check this out. From the CNN article, “To put this achievement in perspective, other departments of similar size had multiple fatal shootings in the same period. For example, the Orlando Police Department recorded 24 officer-involved shootings during the same span — 10 of them fatal. According to unofficial statistics compiled by the activist group Mapping Police Violence, only three of the nation’s 100 largest departments went without a fatal shooting from 2013 through 2016. Two were the peaceful suburban enclaves of Irvine, California, and Plano, Texas. The third was Buffalo, a gritty metropolis of 260,000 that averages nearly 50 homicides a year.”

Those interviewed for the article identify a number of factors they believe contribute to the BPD’s record: optimism, the fact that many BPD officers are people who grew up in WNY (and therefore know Buffalo’s neighborhoods and its people well); Kevin Kennedy, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association told CNN, “It might be just by sheer luck.”

The entire article is a worthy read, giving insight to a controversial and tragic topic, that literally hits home.

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