The Honorable Byron Brown
Mayor of the City of Buffalo
201 City Hall
Buffalo, NY 14202
11 March 2008
Dear Mayor Brown;
On behalf of the University Heights Collaborative and St. Joseph University Parish VOICE, two groups of residents addressing various quality of life issues, we are writing to request four specific actions of City Hall and District E Buffalo Police.
As you are aware, the University Heights area has a high concentration of University at Buffalo students and out-of-town landlords. University student house parties that spill onto residential streets, and teenage parties at Linear Park, have been chronic issues that distress homeowners and other students. Rental houses are in abundance along Merrimac, Englewood, and Heath Streets. Significantly, the teenage parties at Linear Park often involve fires, loud music, and drug use/dealing, beginning as early as 3PM when school lets out. Guns have been carried in the open, brandished to pedestrians, and assaults have occurred. I am pleased to inform you the our groups are currently working together with UB and the NFTA Police to address these issues as the weather turns warmer this April and May. We are doing our part, and will do more.
However, a combined approach to these problems is critical, and involves increased law enforcement help from City Hall to ensure a complete and long-lasting solution. The four requests we have are:
A) An increase in the number of Buffalo Police officers deployed in our neighborhood west of Main Street and along Linear Park. We understand the new class of recruits will graduate from the police academy this summer. An overall visible increase in regular police patrols, where residents can get to know the officers in our community, will provide a sense that City Hall has not abandoned University Heights.
B) A stepped-up commitment by City Hall to enforce quality of life "crimes and misdemeanors" activity. We believe that this effort was a campaign promise of yours, and has been successful most recently on Chippewa, for example. Different City departments may be engaged, specifically with task-force sweeps, to address theft and drug-related crimes.
C) A collaborative strategy that increases police presence during peak party times such as recently on Chippewa. At a minimum, focus should be given to Thursday through Saturday nights during the months of April, May, September and October, when students return for classes. Our groups have been communicating with University at Buffalo Police Department on a strategy as well.
D.) A specific strategy that streamlines City Police and University at Buffalo Police Departments’ responses to calls. It is our understanding that there are delays in sending calls to UB Police depending on call frequency. UB Police should be able to respond directly to 911 calls without Buffalo Police being an intermediary.
In the past year, you and Commissioner Gipson met with three churches and residents on the West Side with positive results. A similar meeting with you was called approximately 18 months ago by Councilmember Russell. A new meeting in University Heights would be timely as our groups focus on neighborhood watch activities and other projects.
Finally, Heights residents are encouraged by the University’s UB2020 plans for growth of students and faculty in our community. Main Street is a gateway entrance to both the South Campus and the City that we are proud of. The University Heights Collaborative and St. Joseph University VOICE realize our members must be engaged with other shareholders to make our community attractive and safe for these new homeowners and quality students – a vibrant community where people desire to be at all hours. We look forward to your involvement as well. Thank you for your efforts regarding these matters.
David Ellerbrock, Ph.D. Robert Heffern
University Heights Collaborative St. Josephs University Parish VOICE