Articles for Bruce Rushton

Jul 10

2024

More drama with jail advisory board

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. Photo by Garrett Looker. The Erie County Sheriff’s Department has pulled staff from meetings of a jail advisory board, citing the body’s inability to raise quorums and an adversarial tone from some members. The withdrawal came after Jerome Wright, a former inmate who’s been critical of the sheriff’s office, was elected chairman to the board that’s been tasked with reviewing jail deaths and operations. “This is a disingenuous attempt to go out like a punk instead of standing your ground,” said Wright, who has opposed the sheriff’s push for a new jail and says he[...]

Posted 2 weeks ago

Jun 25

2024

A purchase by the sheriff with limited value

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. Photo by Garrett Looker. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office plans to acquire equipment to detect whether motorists are under the influence of drugs, even though results aren’t admissible in court due to accuracy concerns.  The purchase of five SoToxa drug analyzers at a cost of $26,000 would be funded through a $2.9 million state grant approved unanimously last week by the county Legislature with no debate or discussion. The money also would pay for surveillance cameras, drones, license plate readers and mobile x-ray equipment designed to capture images of vehicles that would be deployed at[...]

Posted 4 weeks ago

Jun 19

2024

Smart law enforcement or Big Brother?

The Erie County sheriff’s office wants to buy x-ray equipment for scanning vehicles that’s typically used for military purposes and has raised privacy concerns in the civilian world.  The requested “whole vehicle scanning system” would be used to “enhance the agency’s details at all mass gatherings and critical infrastructure,” according to the department’s grant application filed with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. It’s a groundbreaking ask. “We’re not aware of any other agencies applying for x-ray systems capable of scanning entire vehicles,” said Kirstan Conley, spokeswoman for the Division of Criminal Justice Services, which administers requests from police[...]

Posted 1 month ago

Jun 13

2024

Double trouble involving Buffalo cop

A Buffalo Police vehicle parked on Niagara Street. Photo by Garrett Looker. Buffalo Police Officer Kiam Gunn knows the law from both sides of the badge. Before becoming a cop in 2018, Gunn, 44, was arrested at least five times on charges ranging from drug possession to assault. He’s also gotten in trouble while a police officer. During his six years on the force, Gunn has been the target of six internal affairs complaints. Two were upheld, resulting in discipline. Gunn was suspended without pay for 45 days in May 2022, after witnesses reported seeing him smoke marijuana at Delaware[...]

Posted 1 month ago

May 29

2024

Jail advisory board makes some progress

Erie County Holding Center. Photo by Garrett Looker. The Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board made incremental progress Tuesday, mustering a quorum, barely, after failing to draw enough members to conduct business at its three previous monthly meetings. Six members of the 11-seat board were present, exactly the number needed for a quorum. The board took two actions, approving minutes of past meetings that could not previously be voted on due to lack of members and setting a June 11 date for a special meeting to select a chair, a vice chair and a secretary, positions that have been vacant[...]

Posted 2 months ago

May 15

2024

Who’s responsible for dysfunctional jail oversight board?

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia. Photo by Garrett Looker. The Erie County Bar Association, the sheriff and the Legislature haven’t filled vacancies on a jail advisory board that hasn’t been able to conduct business for lack of a quorum. Meanwhile, prisoners are dying, prompting lawsuits and millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. Tasked with overseeing the jail and recommending improvements, the Corrections Specialist Advisory Board hasn’t been able to review jail deaths, consider plans for a new jail or even approve a 2023 annual report that remains in draft form. The 11-seat board, which has three vacancies, is supposed[...]

Posted 2 months ago

May 8

2024

Dismissed Buffalo cop had history of complaints

A Buffalo cop fired for dousing a woman with pepper spray and falsifying reports to justify his actions was the subject of nine inquiries into allegations ranging from rudeness to excessive force. Seven investigations came during Kevin Murphy’s last two years of active duty. In addition, a city parking enforcement officer whom Murphy threatened and berated complained in 2022, while Murphy was on paid leave pending termination for pepper spraying Lekisha Neal and falsifying reports. Other complaints included an allegation that Murphy had beaten a teenager while arresting him on suspicion of robbery. The department could not determine the truth[...]

Posted 2 months ago

Apr 24

2024

Erie County jail advisory board stalled

Between inmate deaths, lawsuits and plans for a new jail, there is plenty for the Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board to consider. But the body tasked with overseeing the county’s two jails and making recommendations for programs and operations hasn’t been able to do anything for want of members at meetings. The board’s monthly meeting held Tuesday via Zoom was the third in a row where no action could be taken due to lack of quorum. No one was present from the sheriff’s office, which usually assigns someone to report on such matters as body cameras for guards and[...]

Posted 3 months ago
Investigative Post

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