Buffalo Police Department

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Buffalo Police Department
MottoServing The Community
Agency overview
Formed1871; 152 years ago (1871)
Preceding agency
  • Niagara Frontier Police District c. 1866
Annual budgetUS$ 131 million (2017–2018)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionBuffalo, New York, USA
Size52.5 square miles (136 km2)
Legal jurisdictionAs per operations jurisdiction
Primary governing bodyMayor of Buffalo, New York
Secondary governing bodyBuffalo Common Council
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters68 Court Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
Police Officers708 (2017-18)[1]
Unsworn members~200
Agency executive
  • Joseph A. Gramaglia, Commissioner

The Buffalo Police Department (BPD) is the second-largest city police force in the state of New York. In 2012, it had over nine hundred employees, including over seven hundred police officers.[2]

The Buffalo Police are headquartered at the City of Buffalo Police and Fire Headquarters at the Michael J. Dillon U.S. Courthouse Building on Court Street in Downtown Buffalo.

In 2020, the BPD was in the national spotlight after a video showed BPD officers shoving a 75-year old man to the ground, causing a skull injury and bleeding from his head while they walked past him without giving him treatment.[3][4][5]


The City of Buffalo Police Department was established in 1871, taking over for the previous Niagara Frontier Police District (c. 1866[6]) that oversaw not only Buffalo, but also Tonawanda and Wheatfield.[1][7] The first BPD force had 204 men.[7]

The BPD appointed its first female police officer prior to World War I.[8] The department hired George C. Sarsnett, its first Black policeman in 1919. He served the city for nineteen years dying of natural causes in 1937.[9] The second Black policeman, hired that same year was Oliver M. Bragg. He was promoted to detective and stayed with the police until his retirement in 1946.[8] Fifty-one Buffalo police officers have died in the line of duty. The first of these was George Dill who was shot and killed in 1865.[10]

In 1930 the department changed the design of its badges. Press reports at the time indicated that Mayor Frank X. Schwab had distributed official badges to his friends causing confusion.[11]

BPD was formerly arranged with stations into "precincts" like the NYPD (total 17) but this was replaced with five districts and subdivided into sectors.

In 2018, the BPD, along with the Buffalo Fire Department, moved into a new joint headquarters building in the former Michael J. Dillon Federal Courthouse.[12] The Buffalo Police Commissioner is Joseph A. Gramaglia,[13] he replaced Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood.[14] The 1st Deputy Commissioner is Barbara Lark.[15]

Police misconduct and other controversies[edit]

The BPD has a history of police brutality and racial profiling.[16][17][18][19] In its early days, the department primarily served upper-class business interests in Buffalo, in particular to quell labor unrest; business interests controlled the police commissioners and the superintendents.[7] The department has also been accused of retaliation against officers who attempt to stop police misconduct.[20] Accountability measures for police are very weak in Buffalo.[21]

Cariol Horne lawsuit[edit]

In 2006, BPD officer Cariol Horne intervened when Gregory Kwiatkowski, a white officer, was choking a handcuffed black suspect.[22] Horne claimed that Kwiatkowski punched her in the face, while Kwiatkowski claimed Horne had jumped on him while he was struggling with the suspect. The incident was not filmed. An internal investigation resulted in no other officer supporting Horne's claims. For her intervention, she was fired and lost her pension one year before it went into effect,[17][4] whereas Kwiatkowski was shortly thereafter promoted to lieutenant.[20] In 2009, Kwiatkowski was convicted and sentenced to prison after using excessive force on four handcuffed black teenagers.[23][24][4][20] Kwiatkowski was forced to retire after assaulting two other officers in separate incidents, but was permitted to keep his pension.[25][22] In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd protests, including the Niagara Square shoving incident, white-shoe law firm Kirkland & Ellis launched an action for reinstatement on behalf of Horne.[26] On April 13, 2021, a state court judge vindicated Horne, granting her the back pay and benefits that the BPD had denied her.[20][27]

Reluctance to arrest child-molesting priests[edit]

Press reports in 2019 indicated the Department had an unwritten policy since at least 1968 to not arrest Catholic priests. Although retired officers said they had never released a priest who had had sexual contact with a child, those detained for public masturbation or sexual activity with an adult were released after a phone call to the local diocese. The clergy of other faiths were not offered the same policy.[28]

Niagara Square shoving incident[edit]

External video
video icon Footage of the incident between a 75-year-old man and officers, filmed by a WBFO news team

On June 4, 2020, amid the George Floyd protests in New York state, police officers from the Buffalo Police Department pushed 75-year-old Martin Gugino during a confrontation in Buffalo's Niagara Square, causing him to fall to the ground which left him bleeding from the ear. He was brought to the hospital and was in "serious but stable condition."[29] Two days later he was still listed as being in "critical condition" at Erie County Medical Center.[30] He suffered a brain injury as a result of the fall and was still unable to walk nearly two weeks after the assault. The BPD claimed in their official statement that the man "tripped and fell".[31][32] Following the incident, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown announced impending changes to the BPD.[33]


The Department has five districts: A-District, B-District, C-District, D-District, and E-District.[34]

District District chief Neighborhoods covered
A Robert Joyce South Buffalo
B Vince Judge Downtown
C Alphonso Wright Eastside
D Joseph Fahey Riverside, North Buffalo
E Carmen Menza University Heights

From 1871 to 1995 police stations were referred to as precincts.[35]


  • Glock 22 .40 S&W Sidearm - standard issue sidearm, replaced Glock 17.
  • Benelli Nova Shotgun-standard issue duty shotgun, used in situations when the rifle isn't needed and when the service pistol isn't needed. Medium range encounters.
  • Baton (law enforcement) - used as an impact weapon.
  • Pepper spray - used as a defensive spray.
  • Handcuffs - used to detain subjects.
Buffalo Police Special Weapons and Tactics
  • Glock 22 .40 S&W sometimes outfitted with a TLR-1 weapon light.
  • Colt AR-15 - M4A1 and Commando models utilized, usually equipped with different sights, flashlights, fore grips, usually more customized than usual patrol rifles.
  • Heckler & Koch MP5 - sub-machine gun utilized for certain scenarios in close quarters where the M4's would be to large and for other incidents.
  • Benelli M3 Super 90 - Entry Model with a 14" barrel with some equipped with flashlights.


[citation needed]


Title Insignia
Deputy Commissioner
Detective Sergeant
Police officer

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Fact Sheet: The City of Buffalo Police Department" (PDF). Partnership for the Public Good. December 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "Buffalo Police, NY | Official Website". www.bpdny.org. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  3. ^ "75-year-old Buffalo man shoved to ground by police suffered brain injury". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  4. ^ a b c Sondel, Justin; Knowles, Hannah (2020). "George Floyd died after officers didn't step in. These police say they did — and paid a price". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Vigdor, Neil; Victor, Daniel; Hauser, Christine (2020-06-05). "Buffalo Police Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-Year-Old Protester". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  6. ^ "Manual of the Niagara Frontier Police Force of the State of New York by Niagara Frontier Police District on the Lawbook Exchange, Ltd".
  7. ^ a b c HARRING, SIDNEY L.; McMULLIN, LORRAINE M. (1975). "THE BUFFALO POLICE 1872—1900: Labor Unrest, Political Power and the Creation of the Police Institution". Crime and Social Justice (4): 5–14. ISSN 0094-7571. JSTOR 29765953.
  8. ^ a b "History of Black Police Officers". Buffalo Police Then & Now. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  9. ^ "19-Year Police Career Halted by Death". Buffalo Evening News. 9 February 1937. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Buffalo Police Department, New York". Officer Down Memorial Page. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Police Ask New Badge to End Use of Old Ones by "Friends"". Buffalo Evening News. 3 October 1930. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  12. ^ Williams, Deidre (2018-09-10). "Buffalo Police Department begins move to new headquarters". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  13. ^ "Contact Information | Buffalo Police, NY". www.bpdny.org. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  14. ^ "Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood retires from the department after 38 years". wgrz.com. 24 February 2022. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  15. ^ "Contact Information | Buffalo Police, NY". www.bpdny.org. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  16. ^ Heaney, Jim (2020-06-06). "The Terrifying History of Bad Cops in Buffalo". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  17. ^ a b i_beebe (2020-06-10). "A black Buffalo cop stopped another officer's chokehold. She was fired". CSNY. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  18. ^ "Buffalo has its own cases of police brutality – especially against people of color". The Buffalo News. 2020-06-01. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  19. ^ admin (2016-07-13). "Checkpoint Buffalo: Are the BPD's traffic stops unconstitutional?". CSNY. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  20. ^ a b c d Bromwich, Jonah E. (2021-04-14). "Court Vindicates Black Officer Fired for Stopping Colleague's Chokehold". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  21. ^ Kelly, Geoff (2020-07-29). "City Hall inertia on one-sided police contract". Investigative Post. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  22. ^ a b al-Gharbi, Musa (July 1, 2020). "Police Punish the 'Good Apples'". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  23. ^ "Take this dispute to court: Firing of Buffalo police officer deserves measured consideration". Buffalo News. 2020-06-11. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  24. ^ "Ex-Buffalo cop gets 4 months in prison in 2009 excessive force case". Buffalo News. 2020-06-11. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  25. ^ "Fired cop says she tried to stop another from choking suspect". theindychannel.com. December 22, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Sweeney, Annie (October 26, 2020). "Fired Buffalo police officer who contends she stopped another cop from choking a man finds new support — in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  27. ^ Reporter, Maki Becker News Staff. "Fired Buffalo police officer wins lawsuit, will get her pension". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  28. ^ Hebeck, Dan (19 May 2019). "Marching orders kept Buffalo cops from arresting child-molesting priests". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  29. ^ Miller, Ryan W.; Culver, Jordan; Robinson, David; Hauck, Grace; Taddeo, Sarah. "2 Buffalo cops charged with assault after video shows officers shoving 75-year-old man to the ground". USA TODAY. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  30. ^ DeDario, Lindsay (June 9, 2020). "Buffalo police arraigned for felony assault, elderly protestor still critical". Reuters. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  31. ^ Elisha Fieldstadt (June 12, 2020). "The 75-year-old man shoved to ground by Buffalo police suffered brain injury, lawyer says". NBC News. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  32. ^ "Buffalo protester Martin Gugino has a fractured skull and cannot walk". CNN. 16 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Buffalo adopts policing changes after protester is hurt". Star Tribune. The Associated Press. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  34. ^ "Buffalo, NY". www.buffalony.gov. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  35. ^ http://www.bpdthenandnow.com/historypage01.html
  36. ^ https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/73459/xcriminaljustice__buffalo_police_department_fact_sheet.pdf?sequence=1[bare URL PDF]