The former Police Advisory Board of Buffalo, New York was recently disbanded by local officials. The Buffalo News reports, “On March 8, the Council dissolved the Police Advisory Board because of internal fighting, including the resignation of five board members last month and the board’s unwillingness to comply with the Council confirming new members.”
But this hasn’t stopped them from being active in public while a new board is established. In fact, they still call themselves the advisory board.
“On March 15 after we were dissolved, we purchased the name legally. We are the Police Advisory Board. We’re a non-profit. We went through New York state and purchased the name,” says member Dominique Calhoun.
Now, they would like to attend a Council meeting, meetings typically not open to questions, to enquire on the officer involved shooting of local man, Dominique Thomas. Thomas was having a mental health crisis when officers arrived on scene.
Thomas was armed with a knife when he confronted officers, The Buffalo News reported. Despite pleading with him “over 36 times” , police body cam footage from the scene shows the officers were not able to persuade Thomas to unarm himself. Subsequently, they opened fire.
Dominique Calhoun believes the officers should have had “other tools.” Additionally, she said, “Or at least they would have had options to try to prevent this before they had to use lethal force. Those officers should not have been the ones to reply to that call, and if they were, they should have been equipped with the tools to at least try … to deter him.”
Calhoun is alluding to recent Leftwing law enforcement strategies, such as sending mental health professionals or social services instead of trained police officers to deal with potentially violent, and as this case shows, potentially armed individuals.
Buffalo has a new department which does this sort of response, the Buffalo Police Department’s Behavioral Health Team. Their tactics include, “less lethal weapons such as a Taser or a BolaWrap that can shoot a lasso-like device around a person.” Unfortunately, it only operates weekdays from 8-6.
While these weapons may or may not have prevented the shooting, they do not guarantee an armed individual can be stopped or disarmed when they are applied. In close quarters, such as in this case body cam footage demonstrates, it can quickly end in an injured or dead officer if they do not work.
The officers from this case are on paid administrative leave as an investigation is conducted, but the “Police Advisory Board” wants a public forum on the case anyhow.
“We are asking the community to join us & the Thomas family at the next Common Council Meeting to ask where are the tasers? Why are the … BolaWraps only available to the Behavioral Health Team Officers? Why weren’t these measures already in place to help Dominique Thomas? Requesting an emergency Resolution to have the Behavioral Health Team Police Officers available on call for 24/7,” Dominique Calhoun, wrote in an email.
The fact that the “Police Advisory Board” was disbanded by local officials but now operates as a non-profit perhaps implies their agenda in the first place. It will remain to be seen how they continue to operate within the city, but it is likely that they will become a competing force against whomever constitutes the new board being assembled by the city moving forward. The “Police Advisory Board” may have been disbanded officially by the city of Buffalo, but unofficially, it seems the group will continue to make waves and demand their own law enforcement oversight agendas.
Image Credit: Photo by Neonbrand on Unsplash