Streamlining the codes so police officers can spend more time on the road was suggested by Blasdell Police Lieutenant Joseph Gramaglia to the village board at Wednesday (March 6) board meeting.
Gramaglia suggested changing the village’s codes, establishing a Book of Violations for law enforcement purposes, with the intent of allowing patrol officers more time on the streets and less time completing paperwork.
Gramaglia said there is a desire for implementing a quicker and more efficient way of enforcing village ordinances. In the case of a violation, it is currently applied through issuing appearance tickets to village court or, in more serious instances, arresting a suspect and transporting that individual to police headquarters for processing and ensuing paperwork.
The suggested change to the village code incorporates the concept of the City of Buffalo’s ordinance book, which contains approximately between 30 and 40 defined violations, entailing even infrequent ones such as possessing an open container of alcohol and loudly playing music, to go along with the existing enforcement policy of parking fines being directed through attached tickets and envelopes for mailed payment.
If implemented, the hypothetical Book of Violations in Blasdell was said by Gramaglia to list roughly between 10 and 20 violations, charges that are at least “defined and on the books.” It is Gramaglia’s hope that a new, condensed system can include officers who respond to cases of offbeat incidents- such as noise complaints or an individual blatantly possessing an open container of alcohol- being able to have the option of utilizing on-scene tickets that include a brief incident narrative section for the officer to fill, as well as a court summons for the perpetrator, who could have the option of pleading “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” It was added that instances can still hypothetically exist for offenders to be arrested and transported to headquarters following more serious cases of aggression and other matters. However, the on-scene tickets are said to significantly reduce paperwork for officers and give more time for law enforcement to patrol the streets.
“I’m looking at this from a quality of life and speed issue,” said Gramaglia, who added that the lowest possible fine in the City of Buffalo for smaller offenses typically stands at $59.50, compared to predetermined amounts of $20 for similar violations in Blasdell. “It’s a way to simplify things, while keeping officers on the street and not tied up with paperwork. (The on-scene ticketing can be) a four to five-minute interaction.”
It was stated that re-codification in Blasdell would require a local law being enacted to explain such changes. The last re-codification in the village was said to have taken place in 1991.
Gramaglia said his idea for defined offenses being placed within an established Book of Violations does not come as a result of a rampant number of issues of smaller misdoings by village residents. Although the police lieutenant stated that repeated noise complaints have been brought against two particular Blasdell residences, it was added that the focus of the village’s police department is not to seek out ways to “bust” residents.
“We don’t want to discourage neighborly friendliness,” Gramaglia said. “A police officer’s greatest tool is discretion. (Implementing a Book of Violations puts even smaller offenses) on the books, to be enforced when they should be enforced.”
Village Trustee Rob Hefner said he likes Gramaglia’s idea of instituting a more efficient ticketing/summonses system for police. Speaking in relation to smaller offenses such as possessing an open container of alcohol, Trustee Matt Chandler asked whether such behavior was legal in taking place at the village’s Summer Concert Series at JFK Playground. It was responded that consuming alcohol is allowed within the designated parameters of the concert venue, for patrons aged 21 and older, during the Wednesday performances.
Parking tickets in Blasdell are currently issued at a fine of $20, compared to what is believed to be a lowest-possible amount of $35 for such infractions in the City of Buffalo. Under re-codification changes, fine amounts for offenses were described as being at the discretion of the judge during court summonses.
In related meeting action, the Village Board passed a motion to appoint Dennis Feldman to the position of part-time police officer in Blasdell. Feldman was said to have recently retired from the Town of Evans Police Department after 27 years of service, including time as a senior Field Training Officer. Gramaglia described Feldman as an individual possessing a wealth of experience in law enforcement.
“We’re always looking to bring in experienced people, and (Feldman) brings volumes of experience in training,” the police lieutenant said. “He’ll be a go-to guy for the younger officers who may have a question. He’ll make a great peer with which to be contacted.”
During the meeting’s preceding work session, various representatives from the Blasdell Business Association spoke with the Village Board regarding several matters moving forward, including the Summer Concert Series. Those in attendance from the BBA included Dennis DiPaolo, Don Daley and Sam Lagurski.