In her article Maggie asks a rhetorical question Can mere journalism really turn around a citys destiny? and answers herself with a maybe. There are many elements that go into the building of cities and as our experiences in the cities of Iraq have shown security is one of the major factors in making cities habitable. And yes Maggie mere journalism can really turn around a citys destiny.
The ethical and moral values that determine the effectiveness of a police department have been so eroded under the misadministration of Rocco Diina that it screams out for a complete overhaul and reform starting from the top down. When people can be gunned down steps from a police station in downtown Buffalo you know that this city is in deep trouble. Mayor Masiello when first elected some ten years ago appointed a police commissioner, Gil Kerlikoske, who managed to bring an antiquated department into the 21st century. The political shuffle that occurred three years later saw Kerlikowske wave goodbye and saw an inept and unqualified Rocco Diina become Commissioner of Police.
Police professionalism took a back seat to politics as usual and the sycophants were rewarded with newly created exempt positions that would not require civil service scrutiny. Political patronage and cronyism allowed for the demise of the Homicide Squad and other divisions all in the name of budgetary discipline. Civil service promotional lists were allowed to die because of petty personal disputes between Commissioner Diina and the man or woman next in line for promotion.
Corruption in the department was allowed to fester and the department has been split by warring camps that see some as the insiders and others as outsiders and the poison continues to spread further as Rocco Diina continues his political games with the police department. The slogan heard most often on the second floor of headquarters is That was then this is now, and if youre not with me then youre my enemy.
Under prodding by the Control Board Diina and the long stemmed crystal ware Deputy Commissioner are being quizzed on all those expense paid trips to the Big Apple over the past year. Maybe they werent cavorting but getting important management tips from Bernie Kerik on how to operate a private security business.
With downtown Buffalo a free fire zone shouldnt Rocco Diina be held accountable for his failure to provide security for the citizenry of this city? What about his Narcotics Squad being decimated by corruption because of his failure to accept the responsibility of his office. The real problem is the rot at the core of the department and that is a political system that allows a dysfunctional individual to ascend to a position of power and then having Mayor Masiello and the Common Council blind themselves to the truth that they have made a terrible error in judgment.
Homicide has historically been a crime that has a very high solution rate in comparison to other offenses but under the command of Diina not only has the solution rate plummeted but we have also witnessed a rise in the number of homicides in the City of Buffalo. Buffalo is now among one of the few cities in the nation without a Homicide Bureau and most knowledgeable law enforcement officials view this as a horrific management decision. Frank Clark, Erie County District Attorney, in an interview in March 2004 talked about the number of unsolved homicide cases in Buffalo and cited figures from the past three years. In the same interview he (Clark) also said that fewer than 50% of the cases have resulted in arrests or indictments and many fugitives remain on the streets while the arrest warrants pile up at Buffalo Police Headquarters. The national average for clearance in homicide cases hovers in the 76 to 81 percent range and has remained constant for several decades according to FBI statistics.
On March 29th, 2004 Clark and other top Local, State and Federal law enforcement officials announced the formation of Operation Impact a multi agency task force designed to thwart the spike in violent crime. DA Clark says itll be done using State Police and Erie County Sheriffs Investigators. Many of the fugitives still walking the streets, he says, are accused of violent felony crimes. (more facts by going to www.wivb.com/Global/story.asp
Masiello tells us that we will be getting more bang for the buck in our tax money but it appears that the only bang the citizenry is getting from Diina and his police department are more bullets ricocheting off the sidewalks of Buffalo. Instead of worrying about the police union it may well behoove the Buffalo Control Board to request an audit of the Buffalo Police Department and demand that the administration be held to acceptable law enforcement standards. What we dont need are more pious platitudes from a police commissioner that is in the same category as Bernie Kerik. Today, we accept the challenge In a year long project called Why Not Buffalo? this newspaper ( Buffalo News) will take on this big subject. Margaret Sullivan --- Editor- Sunday January 2, 2005
What a grand start for the New Year as we wakened to find that The Buffalo News has become the main cheerleader in an effort to jump start the citizenry of our great city in a campaign of civic improvement and feely touchy sentiments. Mike Vogel was given the front page of Viewpoints to expound on the bridge theory of progressive politics and Editor Maggie Sullivan highlighted herself on the front page of the second section below a headline screaming, 6 people shot outside Sphere.