The City of Buffalo’s Untapped Power to Discipline Police Officers

By J. Miles Gresham, J.D.

Drawing on decisions from the New York State Court of Appeals, this brief argues that the City of Buffalo has an untapped power to discipline police officers, outside of the provisions in its contract with the police union. Both court decisions and Buffalo’s legislative history grant it this authority. However, elected officials have not pursued reforms through collective bargaining agreements, or created new disciplinary systems outside of the police contract—such as civilian oversight with disciplinary power. Taking full advantage of the legal powers that municipalities already have can help remedy some of the fundamental flaws in our criminal justice practices.

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