James A. Shields
Rank: Police Officer
End of Watch: October 30, 2002
Tour of Duty 7 years
Assignment: D-District
Age: 36

Officer James Shields was killed in an automobile accident while attempting to locate a robbery suspect at 2014 hours.

Officers were informed that the suspect had gotten onto a bus and Officer Shields and his partner were attempting to catch up to the bus. They were responding with lights and siren upon entering the intersection at Delaware and Bryant when another vehicle turned in front of them. Officer Shields swerved to avoid the car but struck a tree. He suffered severe injuries and was transported to a local hospital where he died. His partner was also injured in the crash.

Officers later determined that the store clerks and two others staged the $600 robbery and split the money. They were all arrested.

In December 2004, one suspect was shot and killed by officers from the Niagara Falls Police Department after he opened fire on them with a shotgun.

Officer Shields had been a member of the Buffalo Police Department for 7 years, and was assigned to D-District. He is survived by his two sons.



15 Fallen Officers Honored at 2003 Police Officers Memorial Remembrance Ceremony

May 20, 2003

Governor George E. Pataki today announced the addition of fifteen fallen police officers to the State of New York Police Officers Memorial during the 2003 Police Officers Memorial Remembrance Ceremony at the Empire State Plaza .

"This ceremony recognizes all police officers of the State of New York who have made the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duty," Governor Pataki said. "Today, we remember the courage and sacrifice of seven officers who lost their lives in the line of duty last year, and eight other individuals who gave their lives in past years.

"Countless lives have been saved because of those on the front lines -- the police officers who regularly risk their own lives to get dangerous criminals off the streets," said the Governor.

New York State Director of Criminal Justice Chauncey G. Parker said, "Today, we honor all our heroes who made policing their life's work. This monument recognizes courageous police officers who accepted the danger that comes with the job, and who died enforcing the laws that they dedicated themselves to uphold."

In January 1989, New York State enacted legislation providing for the construction of a monument to honor and reflect the duty, dignity and devotion of the police officers of New York State , who are slain in the line of duty.

Since the wall was dedicated in 1991, the names of 1,085 fallen police officers from 127 departments, spanning over 200 years of service to the people of this State, have been engraved in the memorial's black granite walls. The earliest recorded memorial was Darius Quimby, an Albany County Constable who was killed in 1791 while attempting to arrest a subject on a warrant for trespass.

The officers added to the Memorial this year are:

2002 Officers Lost

Buffalo Police Department - Officer James A. Shields October 30, 2002

New York State Police - Trooper Lawrence P. Gleason February 11, 2002

New York City Police Department - Detective Jaime Betancourt March 31, 2002

Broome County Sheriff's Office - Deputy Kevin J. Tarsia July 4, 2002

New York City Police Department - Officer Disdale O. Enton August 28, 2002

Cheektowaga Police Department - Detective Wasyl Potienko October 29, 2002



December 19, 2002

Two police accidents killed 2 officers and seriously injured another over a 2 day span in October; Incidents highlight serious risk to police, who are exempt from NY 's seatbelt laws

Schumer, Tokasz, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco Diina to urge Justice Department to study feasibility of safer quick-release seat belt device

Standing outside the Veridien Corporation in Cheektowaga , Senator Charles Schumer and NYS Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz today asked the US Justice Department to fund a study into the feasability of developing a quick-release seat belt device for police vehicles. Veridian is working to develop an automatic seat belt release that would allow officers to reach their weapons or exit the vehicle more quickly in an emergency. They were joined by Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco Diina and Cheektowaga Police Chief Christine Ziemba.

"Right now, officers have an impossible choice to make very day when they get into their cruisers: Either they buckle up and hamper their ability to leave their car in a hurry to pursue a suspect something that endangers all of us or they don't buckle up and endanger themselves," Schumer said. "The bottom line is that officers shouldn't have to sacrifice their personal safety in order to respond quickly to an emergency. With a little creative thinking, we should be able to supply them with the tools they need to stay safe behind the wheel without worrying whether they can perform on the job."

"It is our hope that by providing police officers with an easier way out of the patrol car in an emergency," said Tokasz, "these brave men and women will be more likely to buckle up when they drive."

Last October, two police officers were killed and another seriously injured in two car accidents over a two-day period. On October 29, Cheektowaga Police Detective Wasyl Potienko was killed when his unmarked police car was hit by a recycling truck and was thrown into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. The very next day, Buffalo Police Officer James A. Shields died and his partner, Kimberly A. Monteforte, was seriously injured when their patrol car hit a tree while they were in pursuit of two robbers. None of the officers were wearing their seat belts.

Although policies differ from department to department, police officers are exempt from New York State 's mandatory seat belt law. While they encourage officers to wear seat belts, neither the Cheektowaga nor Buffalo Police Departments require seat belt use. Many officers do not wear seat belts because they are concerned about being able to easily exit their vehicles without the belt getting caught on their equipment.

A quick-release seat belt could make it easier for officers to reach their weapons or exit the vehicle in an emergency, and it would encourage officers to use a seat belt more often.

Tokasz has been working with Veridian to explore the possibility of creating an automatic seat belt release when the vehicle is placed in park. Veridian, known primarily for its work on national security and intelligence programs for the US Department of Defense, also works extensively with automobile manufacturers around the world to create safer vehicles.

Schumer is now lending his support to the effort and is lobbying the Justice Department for federal funding to study the feasibility of such a seat belt system. Specifically, he will lobby the US Justice Department to provide federal funds from its Science and Technology and Investigator-Initiated Research grant programs to study the feasability of the quick-release seat belt device.

"The seat belt should be in the car to protect the officers' safety. The more the belt gets in the way of the officers doing their job, the less likely they will be to put the belt on and the more likely they will suffer an injury if they end up in an accident. It doesn't need to be that way," Schumer said. "We give police officers bullet proof vests to protect them in case they have to use their weapons. We should give them no less protection if they're in a high speed car chase."

"This concept would provide police officers with a level of comfort when exiting a vehicle in emergency situations," Tokasz said, "and ultimately make them feel more comfortable wearing a seat belt."