University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name DOJ Investigation of the Buffalo Police Department PN-NY-0004
Docket / Court No Court Case ( No Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") opened an investigation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141 into the City of Buffalo and its police department (collectively referred to as "BPD") on December 9, 1997. We do not have the investigation's findings, but on September 19, 2002, DOJ, the BPD, the Police ... read more >
The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") opened an investigation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141 into the City of Buffalo and its police department (collectively referred to as "BPD") on December 9, 1997. We do not have the investigation's findings, but on September 19, 2002, DOJ, the BPD, the Police Benevolent Association, Inc. ("PBA"), and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 264 ("Local 264") entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to resolve issues relating to the use of chemical agent propellant ("CAP") spray--often called pepper spray--by officers of the BPD. The MOA called for changes that included the following:

  • officer training in the use of CAP, including training in verbal de-escalation techniques as an alternative means of control;

  • videotaping all uses of CAP in the department holding cells and prisoner processing areas;
  • implementation of a system to record, track and analyze officer use of force; and
  • changes to the way citizen complaints were received, investigated and resolved.

The MOA required the parties to select an independent reviewer whose role was to review and report on a quarterly basis the BPD's implementation of and compliance with certain provisions in the MOA.

The MOA was set to terminate three years after its effective date, provided that the DOJ determined that the BPD had been in substantial compliance for at least one year, or unless modified by the parties. That would have been in 2005. Instead, on July 9, 2007, the agreement was extended for one more year, and then closed out on July 8, 2008.

Dan Dalton - 01/07/2006
- 01/03/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Buffalo Police Department
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2002 - 2008
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  New York City to Pay Up to $75 Million Over Dismissed Summonses
New York Times
Date: Jan 23, 2017
By: Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Memorandum of Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Buffalo, et al.
PN-NY-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/19/2002
Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Buffalo Police Department to Resolve Police Misconduct Investigation
PN-NY-0004-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/19/2002
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Amended Memorandum of Agreement
PN-NY-0004-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/09/2007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0001
Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0002
Gonzalez, Gregory (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0002
Gregg, Tammie (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0002
Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0002
Murphy, Donna M. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0001
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0001
Sanders, Corey M. (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0002
Supler, Blaise (District of Columbia)
PN-NY-0004-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Burton, Thomas H. (New York)
PN-NY-0004-0001

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