Buffalo Police Then and Now In the News 2003

Fallen police officers honored with roadway memorials
News Staff Reporter 11/30/2003 (Reprint from Buffalo News)
It means a lot to Sylvia McDougald that the city is remembering her late husband, Police Officer Charles "Skip" McDougald, by putting street signs in his honor on Northampton Street. But she would gladly give back all the honors and accolades in the world if she could have her husband back. "This kind of honor is appreciated, but we all still miss him," the widow said during a ceremony Saturday for McDougald and two other city officers who were killed in on-duty incidents. "Sometimes I still think (his death) is all a dream, and I'm going to wake up and everything is going to be OK. Sections of some Buffalo streets are being dedicated to McDougald, who was gunned down by a drug gang member in April 1997; 

Officer Robert J. McLellan, who was hit by a car and fatally injured while chasing a suspect in February 1998; and Officer James A. Shields, who died after becoming involved in a car crash while responding to a robbery call in October 2002. The streets are not being renamed.

The Fallen Officers Memorial Society worked closely with city and state officials to have street signs honoring the three officers placed near where they were fatally hurt.

In addition to the section of Northampton dedicated to McDougald, a portion of Delaware Avenue near Bryant Street will be dedicated to Shields. McLellan will be honored with street signs on Cherry Street and an access road to the Kensington Expressway.

State officials are planning to name a pedestrian walkway over the Kensington, near Cherry Street, after McLellan.

The signs were unveiled at Police Headquarters during a ceremony attended by about 50 people, most of them family members or friends of the three street cops.

Representatives of all three families spoke at the ceremony, as did Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, and representatives of the fallen officers society.

Hoyt said he hopes he will someday be driving around the city and be asked by his children why the streets are named after police officers.

"I'll tell them: "They were all heroes. These are people we should never, ever forget,' " Hoyt said.

Another of the speakers was McLellan's brother, Harold, a 19-year police veteran and a district patrol chief. He said the support he has received from his fellow officers has helped him get through the ordeal of his brother's death.

"It's almost six years now since Bobby was killed, and I can't believe the time has flown by that fast," McLellan said. "I still remember getting the call that morning.

"As a police officer, you see a lot of bad things. It makes you appreciate the good things - like this kind of ceremony - a lot more."

City is ready to hand over jail duties to county

News Staff Reporter
(Reprint from Buffalo News 08-31-2003)

The pungent smell from people jailed on intoxication charges and suspects who
haven't showered in a couple of days will no longer permeate Buffalo Police

Neither will the clanging sound of handcuffed prisoners being led by officers up the
stairs to the fourth-floor cellblock. 

Starting Monday, headquarters at 74 Franklin St. will no longer house about 40
prisoners a day, because the cellblock and much of the booking operations are being
moved to Erie County Holding Center. 

City police brass say the Sheriff's Department's takeover of central booking and
cellblock operations - being formally announced at a news conference at 10 a.m.
Tuesday - will make the process more efficient and free up city police so they can
spend more time on street patrol. 

The move also is expected to shave about $937,000 from the department's $65 million
annual budget. 

"It's smart for us to get out of the cellblock business," said Police Commissioner
Rocco J. Diina. 

"It frees us to utilize personnel in patrol, it removes potential liability from operating a
cellblock, and it relieves us from long-term capital improvements (of the cellblock),
which were needed." 

Men awaiting arraignment will now go directly to the holding center, as has been the
practice with women. 

Until now, officers might have spent up to three hours booking a prisoner and waiting
for him to get space in the cellblock, said Capt. Mark Makowski of the Police
Department's planning and analysis unit. 

Under the new plan, officers will spend about 30 minutes dropping off a suspect to a
sheriff's deputy at the holding center, filling out the arrest report and going to Police
Headquarters to complete court paperwork before returning to patrol duty, said
Makowski. In a couple of years, the entire booking process will be phased in at the
holding center. 

"We're eliminating a redundancy of service," said H. McCarthy Gipson,
superintendent of the Erie County Holding Center. 

According to suggestions made in 2001 by the Who Does What? Commission - an
initiative led by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership that identified areas for potential
government collaborations and consolidations - the city spent almost $135 a day to
house a prisoner awaiting arraignment; the cost at the holding center was about $85. 

Under the new arrangement, 11 city cellblock attendants will become sheriff's
deputies, police officers who transported prisoners to court will be reassigned to
police districts, and the county will take over transporting prisoners. 

Makowski said one of the new setup's biggest advantages is that "(crime) victims and
those arrested don't have to come in contact with each other until the court date, so
this allows (victims) to feel more comfortable and less threatened." 

He also added that the new arrangement - which will be reassessed every five years -
means the city won't have to spend an estimated $200,000 to repair the plumbing and
air circulation system in the cellblock. 

Diina said some of the 42 cellblocks will be used for storage because converting the
space into offices is too expensive. 

"It'll be much quieter around here, and you won't hear the screams or see irrational
people," said Makowski. "Some officers may be a bit nostalgic about the change."

Photos by Lt Michael Kaska


City Police Go Solo 

Reprint from Buffalo News 07-16-2003)

A lengthy era in Buffalo law enforcement will start to wind down today as police begin the change-over to one-officer patrol cars

By GENE WARNER News Staff Reporter 7/16/2003 

Some of them became best friends for life. Others became confidants and amateur psychologists for each other. Some
even wound up as husband and wife. 

There are few professional bonds as strong as the one that binds Buffalo police partners, who ride 10-hour shifts
together, often depending on each other for their own safety - even for their lives. But a new era in Buffalo police annals
dawned at 6:15 a.m. today, when the first one-man car was scheduled to leave the Central District station house at Main
and Tupper streets. 

One-officer patrol cars are being phased in throughout the city over the next six months, and the culture of city police
work never will be quite the same. "We've been preparing for one-officer cars for several years," Police Commissioner
Rocco J. Diina said Tuesday. "The majority of America now patrols like this." But the Buffalo Police Department isn't just copying a national trend of one-officer patrol cars. 

It's doing this to survive: 

To survive, when it's cutting 30 percent of its manpower over a five-year period. To survive, when Erie County officials
are pushing a plan that essentially would have the Sheriff's Department swallow the Buffalo Police Department whole.
And to survive the potential loss of decision-making ability with the city's new financial control board peeking over the
shoulder of the Buffalo police brass. 

Top police officials aren't ducking the issue. They know the department's survival is at stake. "We all need to make this
work, to be able to survive as a department," Chief of Staff James P. Giammaresi said Tuesday, during the final training
session for dispatchers and 911 officials. 

"We have a control board coming in this afternoon," added Edward C. Hempling, the department's chief of fiscal
operations. "We'd rather make the hard decisions ourselves, rather than have them make them for us." Contrary to what
many people seem to think, the conversion to one-officer patrol cars won't be restricted to certain parts of the city. Top
police officials realized it would be difficult to mix and match one-officer cars with two-officer cars in various parts of the

The conversion begins today in the Central District, which covers downtown, the Lower West Side and the heart of the
city up to West Ferry Street and over to Jefferson Avenue. It then will move, in order, to the Northwest District, the
Northeast District, the Ferry-Fillmore District and finally the South District. Police officials hope to have the conversion
complete by the end of the year. 

Camaraderie to change 

No one can dispute that the move to one-officer cars will shatter the patrol-car camaraderie that has existed since Buffalo replaced horse-and-buggies with police cars almost a century ago.Central District Officers Paul Hoppy and Lou Ruberto have been riding together for 17 years. That ends today. "What you're going to miss is the extra set of eyes in the car, to keep you out of accidents and other situations," Ruberto said. "Now it's going to be difficult to do everything by yourself." "We even think alike," Hoppy added. "Being together so long we know what each other is thinking and what we're going to do next. It's just worked real well." 

Police Benevolent Association President Robert P. Meegan Jr. couldn't be reached directly in repeated attempts
Tuesday, but he did respond with a brief voice-mail comment, saying that the implementation of one-officer cars was one of the terms of the new collective-bargaining agreement reached in March. "Obviously, the PBA's focus is on the
paramount safety of the police officers of the city of Buffalo during this conversion period," Meegan said. 

One Central District officer, a 19-year veteran who wouldn't give his name, believes the one-officer cars will increase
police officers' risk by about 50 percent. "You're going to see more officers getting injured, and you may see an increase
in suspects getting injured, because you may have to take quick action to protect yourself," he said. "But it's 2003, and
it's here," he added. "The other departments seem to be going to it, and it seems to be successful." Greater alertness
expected Police officials believe officers will have to be more alert while riding alone. 

"When you're with a partner, it seems as if half your attention is being paid to the other person," Giammaresi explained.
"You're talking about where you're going to go to eat or about each other's kids. It's a very social environment. This gives us the ability to do more with less, because you're going to have to be more alert." 

But there are negatives, too. 

Partners often engaged in on-the-job training, discussed crime-fighting strategies with each other and lent each other an
ear to listen to job frustrations and anxieties. That two-person camaraderie will be hard to replace. Now, officers will
have to cover each other's back, providing quick backup, especially when a seemingly routine shoplifting or loud-music
call puts the first officer at the scene at risk. "Now you're going to have a whole platoon working as a team, instead of
having two officers working together," Giammaresi said. "I think the camaraderie for the whole platoon will improve." 

Police officials aren't blind to the challenges they face. 

Dispatchers will assign cars based on the type of call. For example, two cars and one lieutenant would respond to a
shooting, stabbing or kidnapping. Just one car would respond to a shoplifting or property dispute. Communication will be key. A burglary-in-progress would bring two cars and one lieutenant; a burglary after the fact would require just one
patrol car. 

"The biggest challenge is to make sure the communication works properly, that the right information gets out to the
officer," Giammaresi said. "And we want to make sure the John Waynes and Jane Waynes wait for their backup." 

When should officers radio for backup help? 

"Any time an officer has a gut feeling that something is wrong, we're telling them to call for backup," Officer Kimberly
Beaty said during training at the Police Academy on Tuesday. "Officer safety is our primary goal." No matter how much
they're trained, officers will have to develop their own new strategies. 

"We understand that there's going to be a learning curve on the streets and a learning curve in dispatch," Inspector Joseph F. Strano said. "We are aware that officers (at first) will be backing up each other to the extreme." 

While some officers remain skeptical, the switch to one-officer cars will increase the typical number of cars on the street
at any one time from between 40 and 60 now to between 60 and 80, police officials estimate. "It's going to allow us to
provide better service to the citizens," Diina said. "People want to see police, and you're going to have a larger number of cars out there on the street." 

Number of officers to drop 

The number of sworn officers in the Buffalo police ranks, 972 as of June 30 last year, has dropped to 865 today, with a
goal of reaching 675 four years from now. That's more than a 30 percent projected drop in five years. "That's a
substantial reduction," Hempling said. "We could not go down that far with two-officer cars, without substantial loss of
service and substantial overtime." Still, the jury remains out on how this all is going to work. "It's going to be different,"
Officer Hoppy said, preparing for his last ride Tuesday with his longtime partner. "It's going to be a big change for the
whole city. I hope it works out."




Shooting season 

Reprint from Buffalo News
Drug wars, turf battles and simple machismo have fueled a troubling trend - gunfire that is increasingly prevalent this summer

News Staff Reporters

Add the crack of gunfire to the sounds of Buffalo's summer. 

Shootings are on a big upswing in the city this year, especially in recent months. Fortunately for many of the victims, the shooters' skills are not very good, while the skills of doctors and nurses are. Otherwise, the homicide rate might be taking off, too. 

Roughly 80 shootings have occurred since June 1 - more than one a day. It's also about 33 percent more shootings than last year at this time, and 44 percent more than five years ago. 

"You used to punch each other in the face. Now they pull a gun out and shoot you," said Detective Sgt. James P. Lonergan of the Major Crimes Unit.  


James Williams Jr. is among the victims. Last month, Williams was shot for talking to a girl on Broadway against the
wishes of her older brother.  Williams, 19, soon became involved in a fistfight with the brother and two of the brother's friends. One of the friends pulled a shotgun from a car trunk and fired at Williams.  Williams ran, but was shot in the right hand and left arm. A young bystander also was hit. 

His story is not unusual. 

Most victims of this summer's shooting spree are in their late teens and 20s. Almost all are male. Most of the shootings have been on the city's East Side, but a handful have occurred on the West Side and a couple downtown and in Riverside. The guns being used range from .22- and .25-caliber handguns to shotguns and AK-47s. 

Many are drive-by shootings, but not all. And most of the people being shot at survive. In fact, in a dozen or so cases, the gunmen missed their intended victims. 

Wide spectrum of motives

The motives vary, police say. It's a mixture of criminals trying to control the drug trade dominated by crack and marijuana, and street gangs fighting to control turf - sometimes an entire block or an area as small as the sidewalk in front of a few
houses, police say. 

There are also times, police say, when a shooting is little more than testosterone run amok. 

One man was shot recently because he refused to hand over his cellular phone, another because the victim lived on a different street than the shooter and the gunman didn't think he belonged there. A couple of weeks ago, a Bird Avenue man was sitting on his front porch when a man passing by pointed a gun at him and asked, "What are you looking at?" then fired several shots at him that missed. 

It's not uncommon for shootings sparked by something as trite as retribution when one man steps on another man's shoe, police said. 

"There definitely are a lot of cases where drugs are involved, but it's not always drugs. . . . It's male "macho-ism,' " said Detective Timothy Mulhern from the Ferry-Fillmore District. "People think that's cool: "I'm gonna get me a gat (street lingo for gun).' " Some law enforcement officials say the deeper problem is socioeconomic - a depressed economy, lack of jobs and the breakdown of the family. 

Some also say it doesn't help that a limited police budget has caused the department to slash the number of community police officers, including those assigned to the schools, and cut 200 officers over the next three years. 

But police officials say two officers will be reassigned to city schools in September. They also say the new one-officer patrol car policy will help because of the increased police presence. 

"Even though overall there will be less officers, there will be more officers to do proactive policing," said Rocco J. Diina, police commissioner. 

Diina also said he and Mayor Anthony M. Masiello have been talking in recent weeks about creating a violent-crimes task force in response to the shootings.  "We've got a new, young breed of criminals," Masiello said. 

Meanwhile, residents are frightened. 

"People get crazy'
Williams said his life has been turned upside down since he was shot last month. He said he was riding his bike to a church basketball game when the dispute over a girl led to his being shot. 

"It's a scary situation, and it makes you value your family and friends," said Williams. "You can't go down the street and enjoy yourself anymore without worrying about being shot." 

Up until the shooting, Williams had been taking night classes at Bennett High School, but he couldn't take his written exam because his writing hand was injured, he said. Instead of playing basketball and enjoying the summer, he spends his days
mostly at home, recuperating from surgery and attending physical therapy almost every day. 

"When it gets hot, people get crazy," said Williams. "People are cooped up in the wintertime, and when it gets hot it fries people's brains." 

It has, in fact, been one of the more violent summers Buffalo has experienced in years.  Thirty homicides have occurred so far this year - up six from this time last year. And that compares with 44 homicides during all of 2002. 

More than half of this year's homicides are the result of gunfire. And with all the shooting in the streets, police credit improvements in medical care with preventing the homicide rate from going even higher. 

"I think the medical people are just so well trained (compared to) previous years that they save lives right on the spot," Lonergan said. 

Police also said that when Buffalo had its past shooting and murder waves - with 79 homicides in 1993 and a record 92 murders in 1994 - most were drug-related, and much of the violence was concentrated in the East Side's old Michigan Station precinct. "Twenty years ago, there were no homicides on the West Side," said Detective Sgt. Robert Chella, head of the Special Services Unit, a division that tracks crime trends, identifies gangs and analyzes graffiti. 

"We're getting a few now. The West Side area of Grant and Ferry appears to be a turning neighborhood. It's becoming more of a problem." 

Gang activity has evolved

Police also said the gang activity being seen today, which is responsible for some of the shootings, is different from street gangs of the past. 

Today's gangs are less organized and more plentiful, and their members are more independent than in the past, police said. 

"There's none of these dramatic kingpins anymore," said Chella. "They have no allegiance to anyone. A lot of them are just weekend warriors." 

There are about 10 street gangs in the city. Some have as many as 200 members, and many are named after neighborhood streets. The predominant gangs are the Newburgh Crew, mostly around Newburgh Street and Walden Avenue; the Bailey Street Posse; the Townsend Boyz, centered on a block of Townsend Street between
Genesee and Sycamore streets; the Goodyear Crew; and Downtown 31, which emerged out of School 31, Chella said. 

The local Bloods and Crips are not affiliated with the national organizations, but they use similar signs and wear similar colors, he said. 

Police say they are trying various crime-fighting strategies - including gun abatement programs. 

In 2002 alone, 856 guns were recovered in the city of Buffalo by police, according to statistics from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Youths under age 25 accounted for 203 of those gun seizures. Police argue that sort of danger on the city's streets more than justifies the highly publicized contract they negotiated with the city this spring. 

"This is why these police officers on the street deserve that money. They're in a war zone," Lonergan said. 

The department plans to put police officers back in schools in September. 

In June 2002, Buffalo's public schools took a blow when a tight budget forced the department to cut the 14-member unit of community police officers that provided drug education and helped fight gangs and truancy in schools. 

Police are now assigning about 25 officers to community policing with the help of a $5.1 million federal COPS grant, said James P. Giammaresi, Buffalo police chief of staff. 

Two school resource officers will be placed back inside Buffalo schools in September because of a state grant recently issued to the department. 

Kids need guidance, hope

But Deputy Police Commissioner Crystalea Burns Pelletier said solving the problemM goes far beyond just providing additional funding for police. 

"You've got to give these kids some hope," Pelletier said. 

Helping young people settle their differences without guns begins with education, parenting, and community outreach, Pelletier and Diina said. 

When young people aren't getting proper guidance at home and parents don't seem to care where their child got that new bike, gun or $200 pair of sneakers, that's where the problems seem to start, they said. 

"It's a social problem," Giammaresi added. "It comes down to parenting. Babies are having babies. Now these babies are coming of age and committing crimes. Do they have parental guidance? Do they have an education? If they become criminals, the question should be, "What did everyone else do along the way?' 

"We're at the end of the line. The police didn't create the problem, but we're trying our hardest to stop it." 

Williams, meanwhile, is hoping to re-enroll in school in September and aspires to be a graphic designer, creating video games one day. 

"It changed me for the better," he said, referring to the shooting last month. "I'm going to focus on getting my life together, because any given time, it could be taken away."

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com
and tpignataro@buffnews.com


Felony weapon arrest made after chase in city 
Reprint from Buffalo News 7/21/2003 

Buffalo police reported Sunday chasing a suspect at up to 80 mph on the Scajaquada Expressway before making a felony weapon arrest. 

Officers Cindy Diem and William Delano of the Northwest District said they were on a robbery call when they saw a suspect speeding out of parking lot on Squaw Island.
Chasing him north on Niagara Street, they said, they pulled his vehicle over on Scajaquada ramp. 

However, when Diem saw a gun in his waistband and ordered him to surrender, the driver sped off on the expressway, according to the police report. 

At one point, the driver shut off his headlights, the officers said, and they saw him throw a gun out of his window. Then he exited at Elmwood Avenue and headed north, they said, and stopped on Elmwood near Amherst Street, where he was arrested. 

Jamar H. McDuffie, 25, of Kensington Avenue, was charged with felony weapon possession, felony reckless endangerment, obstruction of government administration and resisting arrest.


One-Officer Patrol Cars Improve Response Time 

Reprint from Buffalo News 08-10-2003

News Staff Reporter

Seconds after learning that a lone officer had stopped a car being sought in a "man with a gun" call, Buffalo Police Officer Joe Ahmed barreled up Linwood Avenue at close to 50 mph, arriving quickly at the scene at Main Street and Lafayette Avenue. 

He wasn't alone. Within two minutes, nine police cars had arrived at the intersection, making it look more like a police parking lot than a possible crime scene.

About half an hour earlier, Ahmed had stopped a car with tinted windows on Delaware Avenue, near West Utica Street. Within two minutes, even on this lower-priority call, two other cars had stopped to make sure Ahmed didn't need any help. 

And three weeks ago, another Central District officer told Patrol Chief George M. Loncar that as she walked up an apartment building's stairs to answer a weapons call, she looked out the window and saw seven or eight cars backing her

"It looked like a small army," Loncar said. 

Three and a half weeks into the Buffalo Police Department's new one-officer patrols in the Central District, one thing has become abundantly clear: 

Officers now riding alone, without the benefit of a partner inside the patrol car, are quickly flocking to crime scenes as

"The backup from other officers has been spectacular," Ahmed said. "The overriding premise in the beginning is that no one wants to know that another officer answered a call by themselves. No one is going to tell a police officer not to assist a fellow officer, on any call, regardless of the nature." 

On July 16, the Police Department began its long-awaited move to one-officer patrol cars in the Central District - an area that includes Chippewa Street, the downtown business district, Allentown, the lower West Side and the East Side across to Jefferson Avenue. 
The Northwest District will be next, on Friday, followed by the Northeast District, the Ferry-Fillmore District and the South District. 

So far, the response times have been impressive. 

On a recent weekday afternoon, Ahmed's Bravo 341 was one of 16 patrol cars on the streets of the Central District, according to the computer terminal in his vehicle. That would compare to roughly eight or nine cars when officers rode in pairs. 

And the average response time for calls in the Central District has been cut almost in half, according to Buffalo Police Department statistics. 

That doesn't mean everyone's thrilled with the new one-officer cars. Buffalo police officers aren't a happy crew right now, with County Executive Joel A. Giambra suggesting that the city can't afford the officers' retroactive pay raises promised when the police union agreed to the one-officer cars. 

Several police officers grumbled "no comment" when asked about the one-officer cars last week. 

Lt. Albert J. Devlin, a supervisor in the Central District, provided a balanced view of how the officers feel. 

"There are a lot of people who are apprehensive, because of the safety issue," Devlin said. "That's not to say it's a bad thing. There are a lot more cars out there, and everyone has been trained. It's just going to take some change of work habits. But so far, I would say it's been well received." 

Devlin thinks the officers are "on their toes" more now that they're riding alone. But he and others pointed out a frequently heard complaint, that the officers have lost their "second set of eyes." 

"Previously, your partner could run a (license) plate check or a warrant check while you were driving," Devlin said. "Or your partner could say, "Back up, there's a guy in the alley.' Your partner was your second set of eyes while you were operating the vehicle." 

Police partners often developed an unusual rapport, knowing how each other would react in split-second emergency situations. That created a comfort level, the type Ahmed developed with his longtime patrol partner, Officer Rob Johnson. 

Officers also could cover for each other when one of them wasn't operating at peak efficiency or perk each other up during their long 10-hour patrol shifts. 

"Now there's nobody to pick up the slack for you if you have an off day," Ahmed pointed out. 

That camaraderie between two longtime partners has been lost. But now, as they race to crime scenes to back each other up, members of each platoon are learning to rely on each other more. 

As Ahmed put it, "You interact more with all the officers on your platoon, instead of just one." 

One officer's view

Ahmed, 31, a 51/2-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, isn't ready yet to give a thumbs up or down to the one-officer concept. 

Like others, he's thrilled about the quick backup from his colleagues. And he likes the increased police presence on the street. 

"You're getting more coverage," he said. "There's no two ways about it." 

But like other officers, he has some concerns. One of those concerns is that police officers riding alone may be more inclined to respond with force. 

"If I'm alone, my threat perception is different than when I'm with a partner," Ahmed said. "Therefore, my response may have to be more aggressive." 

Ahmed mentioned two examples.
In mid-July, just before the Central District went to one-officer cars, Ahmed and a partner were flagged down on West Tupper Street and alerted to a vehicle filled with possible suspects from a shooting. 

The officers followed the car, which stopped quickly in the middle of a residential street on the East Side. Ahmed and his partner that day got out of their patrol car, pulled out their weapons and ordered the four occupants to stay in the other vehicle. 

"That case would have been a huge challenge, a lot more dangerous, with one-officer cars," he said. 

Ahmed cited another incident, when a Northeast District lieutenant, riding alone as lieutenants do, shot a man after being struck in the head with a metal pipe. 

During a recent 10 a.m.-to-8 p.m. tour, Ahmed saw the evidence of the quick police response when he stopped the car with tinted windows. That's not a high-priority police call, but officers know how dangerous such a call can be. 

"Bravo 341 to radio, I'm on Delaware, just north of West Utica, on a V-and-T," Ahmed announced on his police radio. 

Two cars quickly arrived at the scene, until they saw Ahmed was in no danger. 

"They got here fast," Ahmed marveled. "Those radios travel very fast." 

While Ahmed sees the obvious advantages of one-officer cars for his daytime platoon in the Central District, he questioned whether it would work on every shift, in every section of the city. 

"A one-officer car in the ghetto, on midnights, has a whole different set of rules," he said. "The job approach is different. The challenges are different. . . . Eventually, I think it would be a good idea to integrate two-officer patrol cars in areas where the crime rate dictates it." 

Like others, Ahmed believes the success of one-officer patrols may hinge on getting a resolution of the current police contract dispute. 

"People were willing to accept change as long as we got a fair shake (on the contract)," he said. "Now there's this cloud hanging over us again. They're chopping away at the morale again, and morale affects how you do your job every day." 

Adjusting to change

Top police officials have been impressed with how well Central District officers haveresponded so far. 

"From my experience here, you could almost say they've been operating one-officer cars for their whole career," Loncar said. "It's been that smooth a transition." 

Officers on the street, over a 31/2-week period, have learned to trust that their backups will be there - quickly. 

Officer Sharon Grande stopped the driver on Main and Lafayette the other day, only to see at least eight other cars arrive almost immediately. 

"That's the way it should be," she said later. 

In fact, the backup response has been so quick that supervisors now are advising officers not to overdo it, partly so they can free dispatchers to communicate with the officers at the scene. 

"We've been telling officers, for the serious calls, if three or four or five cars respond, that's generally enough," Devlin said. "We don't need 15 people getting on the radio, saying, "I'm going. I'm going.' " 

Grande also discussed how officers have to change their approach. 

"You have to be more aware of your surroundings, and common sense plays a big part in how you handle yourself," she said. "You have to make sure someone else is there before you confront anyone."