BUFFALO, N.Y. — In his State of the City address, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said efforts are underway to improve the city’s ability to provide services to residents, from elimination of potholes and expansion of Wi-Fi access to increased educational opportunities and incorporation of technology to improve safety.

“We have spent the last 12 years leading our city out of the past and now it’s up to all of us to work together to determine our future,” Brown said at the start of the hour-long speech.

Among the city’s successes in the past year are the opening of both the Oishei Children’s Hospital and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, both on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the construction, still underway, of the Explore & More Children’s Museum at Canalside.

To help lead the city’s emergency services forward, Brown said he’s nominated Byron Lockwood to be the commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department. Lockwood has been serving as interim commissioner since Jan. 17, when previous commissioner Dan Derenda abruptly retired.

Brown also announced the posthumous promotion of Officer Craig Lehner to lieutenant and that Lehner’s K9 partner, Shield, has been assigned to a new partner. The K9 Unit’s training facility will be renamed in honor of Lehner, a member of the department’s Underwater Recovery Team who died during a training exercise last fall.

“The Buffalo Police Department has worked very hard for the 40 percent drop in crime achieved since I took office,” Brown said. “We have removed over 15,600 illegal guns from our streets at a time when we’ve become more painfully aware of the pain of gun violence across our nation every day.”

The city will be sponsoring buses for Buffalo students to attend the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on March 24, he said, organized in response to the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 students were killed.

Brown also discussed:

·         A location has been selected for a new, centralized public works campus to improve delivery of community services including pothole filling, paving and other civic needs

·         The nation’s first African American veterans’ monument will be constructed at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval Park; $650,000 in funding for the monument’s creation has been secured by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

·         An agreement has been reached between the city and the Buffalo Police Athletic League to increase programming at the city’s rec centers and to expand and extend programming for evening and summer activities and throughout the year.

·         A new electronic tracking system is in development that will allow the city to keep its promise to award 30 percent of its contracts to women and minority-owned businesses.

·         In order to coordinate the illumination of downtown buildings for holidays or other civic occasions, Brown has created “Buffalo Lit,” “so these expressions of support can be coordinated as a beacon of what we have, what we hope for and what we’ve lost.”

“We must enter this city’s next phase with the belief that the worst is behind us, with the optimism that we can do anything and with the patience and understanding that all good things take time,” Brown said.