Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. was joined Thursday by leading members of Erie County in a community forum to announce a brand-new community outreach initiative of the office of the Erie County district attorney (ECDA). This new initiative will work toward fostering stronger community relations between law enforcement and residents.
As part of the new community outreach initiative, experienced assistant district attorneys will regularly interact with residents of the City of Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs and cities by establishing a presence at block club meetings and attending senior center and community center meetings, neighborhood association meetings and police-sponsored events, among other related activities.
"Creating partnerships between the office of the Erie County DA and the community is a necessary part of the work we do, and critical to rebuilding public trust, restoring neighborhoods and fighting crime," Flaherty Jr. said. "I'd like to thank our colleagues in government and members of the community for their openness in helping us to establish greater relationships. I look forward to the community's assistance in informing our work, and to building stronger connections to the people we serve."
"I believe that communication is the key making this all work - communication with those who can make a change. This will reduce fear and foster a better relationship," said Masten District Councilmember Ulysees O. Wingo Jr.
The goal of having a prosecutor present at these public meetings and events is to increase communication between law enforcement and the general public. A prosecutor can explain the court process and help to reduce the stress and fear by the victim or witness.
"Our advocacy unit is such an essential part of taking the fear out of going to court," Flaherty said. "My office has an amazing team of social workers, advocates, bilingual advocates and caseworkers available to assist all victims of crime."
ECDA office representatives will seek to educate the public on the work of the office, particularly the newly established narcotics bureau and public integrity unit, elder abuse unit and animal cruelty unit, speak on other topics of interest to the community.