For the first time in more than eight years, a woman has risen to the top ranks of the Buffalo Police Department with the promotion of Kimberly L. Beaty as deputy police commissioner in charge of operations.
Beaty succeeds Charles H. Tomaszewski, who before joining the police force about four years ago, served as the resident agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He was hired by the city to help solidify relations and enhance intelligence sharing with other law enforcement agencies.
Saying that his goals have been accomplished, Tomaszewski resigned two weeks ago to spend more time with his young son, who lives out of state.
Beaty, a 27-year veteran of the Police Department, previously served as chief of the Northeast District, the busiest of the city’s five police districts, and was credited with fostering good relations among block clubs and residents, a goal she now hopes to fulfill citywide.
The last previous female deputy police commissioner was Crystalea Burns Pelletier, who retired when Mayor Byron W. Brown first took office in 2006.
Beaty’s appointment comes at a time when the department has been rocked by a video taken by a bystander showing an officer hitting and kicking an already handcuffed man facedown on the sidewalk April 19 at Philadelphia and Ontario streets in Riverside and, three weeks later, revelations that two off-duty officers worked security for a felon who managed Molly’s Pub in University Heights and is accused of critically injuring bar patron William C. Sager Jr.
Sager’s condition as of Monday was listed as serious in the intensive-care unit at Erie County Medical Center.
In the first incident, Officer John A. Cirulli, who resigned, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to attacking the handcuffed John T. Willet and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24. In the other incident, Officers Robert E. Eloff and Adam E. O’Shei have been suspended without pay pending an internal police investigation that is awaiting resolution of the criminal case against Jeffrey J. Basil, the bar manager, accused of pushing Sager, an Air National Guardsman, down a flight of steps and causing a severe brain injury.
Since May, there have been allegations that Eloff inflicted unjustified force against patrons at other bars, where he moonlighted providing security.
With all that as a backdrop, Beaty says accountability and professionalism rank high on her to-do list in overseeing operations in the districts and the Investigative Division, which makes her responsible for most of the department’s nearly 750 sworn personnel.
“I want to heal our relationship with the public that has been strained by a few incidents,” Beaty said. “I’m big on professionalism. That means more to me than anything. I think professionalism and accountability go hand in hand.”
She and other department commanders have scheduled ethics training for officers, established weekly training bulletins to educate officers on continual issues, such as the public’s right to photograph and video them in the course of their duties, and, overall, pushed for a commitment to excellence.
During the mayor’s re-election campaign last year, Beaty drew the criticism of an opposing candidate for appearing in an advertisement supporting Brown. She said she supported the mayor because of his commitment to law enforcement.
A state Board of Elections opinion from 1983 found that there would be “no violation” of election law if a police officer endorsed a candidate in a videotape.
Looking ahead, Beaty says she envisions a department where citizens and officers have mutual respect.
“Police work is a difficult job, and you have to be able to balance your responsibilities,” Beaty said.
“We have a responsibility for neighborhood safety, and officers must work with citizens in keeping their residential neighborhoods safe.”
Her work schedule will include regular visits to the districts, attendance at block club meetings, and the monthly meetings each district chief conducts with citizens in their respective districts.
Quality-of-life complaints by citizens, Beaty said, will be taken seriously and addressed appropriately and immediately.
“It means a lot because, if we address them, their problems reduce, and so do ours,” Beaty said.
The public, she added, also has a responsibility to address issues in their neighborhoods and communicate with police in an open and honest manner.
“I want relationships to move forward,” she said.
Beaty’s promotion, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said, was based on her job performance as chief for three years. In that time, he said, she demonstrated the ability to work closely with citizens and demand professionalism from the approximately 100 patrol officers, supervisors and civilian employees in her district.
“Due to her leadership, she was able to make an impact in the district with the community and block clubs,” Derenda said. “I believe she’ll be a great asset to the Buffalo Police Department as the deputy commissioner directing operations.”
Beaty’s past duties have included serving as a supervisory lieutenant in the 911 call center and as a training officer in the Buffalo Police Academy, where she specialized in diversity sensitivity, how to perform traffic stops and investigations of domestic violence.
For many years, she worked as a patrol officer in the Northeast District, where her arrests ranged from robbery suspects to alleged killers. But the arrest that meant the most to her was of a teenage girl on a petty crime who years later thanked her.
“I was out shopping, and she came up to me and asked if I was a police officer, and I said yes, and she said, ‘You arrested me.’ I asked her if it was a good experience and she said, ‘It saved my life, and I just wanted to thank you.’ It matters to me when you help create a change in a person’s life.”
Raised in the Ellicott District, Beaty graduated from Hutchinson-Central Technical High School and Canisius College with concentrations in communications and political science. Her mother worked as a crossing guard and public health aide, while her father worked for General Motors.
Beaty is married to Police Officer Vernon K. Beaty, a Northeast patrol officer and commander of the department’s SWAT Team. They are the parents of a teenage daughter.
Throughout her career, Beaty has received a number of honors, including the Black Achievers in Industry Award, Women Touching the World Award, the National Federation for Just Communities Award and the Erie County Law Enforcement Foundation Award.
As for Tomaszewski, a native of Buffalo who traveled all over the country and internationally with the DEA before retiring from his federal job and going to work for the city police force, he says he believes he accomplished his mission to work with Derenda in establishing closer relations with the area’s various law enforcement agencies.
“For me personally, it was a great experience,” he said. “I had an opportunity, and the thing I wanted to stress was to work with other agencies, the sharing of intelligence, and that just made us more efficient.”