Mayor Brown signs Cariol’s Law — Buffalo police officers now have ‘Duty to Intervene’

After weeks of allowing the bill to sit on his desk following the Common Council’s ratification of the City of Buffalo’s new Duty to Intervene law — known widely as Cariol’s Law — Mayor Byron Brown signed it into law, but sought to downplay it’s importance.

Brown has had an ongoing feud with Cariole Horne, the police officer who was terminated months short of being fully vested of her pension because she intervened to stop a fellow police officer from beating an individual who was being apprehended. That officer has since been convicted on excessive forces charges in a separate incident.

For years Horne has been mobilizing social justice activists to amend police department policies that have enabled violence to be propagated against racially marginalized communities in the City.

Mayor Brown’s office circulated the press release below:

Mayor Byron W. Brown today signed the Duty to Intervene law that reiterates a Buffalo Police Officer’s responsibility to intervene in a situation where they believe another officer is acting inappropriately or jeopardizing another person’s safety or well-being. Since June of 2019, the Buffalo Police Department has had a Duty to Intervene policy in its manual of procedures. By signing this legislation into law, Mayor Brown is restating the importance of this duty, its fundamental importance to the proper functioning of a police department, and a reflection of the community sentiment that desired the codification of the policy.

Mayor Brown said, “In a society governed by laws it is vital that everyone understands that no one is above the law, not even police officers. The Duty to Intervene requirement, mandated by the Department’s Manual of Procedures as well as provisions of state and federal law, is now being further reinforced as a fundamental principle to our City’s approach to police reform as well as improving the public’s level of trust in and understanding of how the Buffalo Police Department functions. Along with the other steps—especially the Buffalo Reform Agenda—my Administration and the Council have taken to improve the delivery of Police services in the City of Buffalo, this law will re-emphasize that every officer’s first duty is, and always should be, the protection of the people they serve.”

Below is the full text of the Mayor’s signing statement of the Duty to Intervene Law:

Today, I signed into law Local Law Introductory Number 1 for 2020. The “Duty to Intervene Law” amends Article 13 of the City Charter and Code to add Sections 13-21 through 13-21.5. The Law further codifies duties that Police Officers have had since the formation of Police Departments and mirrors the Duty to Intervene language contained in the Buffalo Police Department’s Manual of Procedures, which were duly re-adopted in June of 2019 as part of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Accreditation Council’s accreditation process. The tenets of the Law exist both in State and Federal Law, but must be constantly restated and reinforced as the guiding principles of the Buffalo Police Department, particularly in this time of nationwide public requests for review and reform of policing practices. Police Officers are by oath and by function sworn to protect and to serve our residents.  They have a responsibility to keep the peace,  not to threaten it; to protect all people from injury, not to inflict it; and to preserve and protect the rights of all citizens, not to abridge those rights. This extraordinary responsibility must be carried out with discretion, honor and integrity. I truly hope having these functions further codified in the City Charter and Code will serve as yet another reminder of what all Police Officers are sworn to do.

Activists have been asking for Cariol Horn’s pension to be reinstated.

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