Extreme winter weather conditions caused havoc in Buffalo, New York last week, with ABC News reporting that dozens of residents lost their lives.
While that crisis led to a ban on driving, local officials are accusing the city’s NFL team of seeking a police escort to circumvent it.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that the Buffalo Bills wanted an escort from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on Christmas Day.
“They were not allowed to travel. They did,” Poloncarz said before adding, “At that time, there was actually heavy snow still.”
“I don’t want anybody to think that Erie County gave preferential treatment to the Bills,” the county official insisted. “As much as they’re essential for our mental health when they win, they are not essential workers.”
Team executive vice president denies escort request was made
According to The Buffalo News, team members were making their way to Buffalo after flying to Rochester from Chicago following a game there.
However, Ron Raccuia serves as the Buffalo Bills’ executive vice president as well as chief operating officer, and he told the paper that no such request was made.
“We made sure that we were not diverting any resources needed in any part of our community, whatsoever,” Raccuia was quoted as saying.
“We were in constant communication not only with them, as well as other agencies throughout Western New York, from the day we left for Chicago on Thursday until the day we returned,” he insisted, adding, “But we did not ask for or receive special treatment. We would not do that.”
State Police are assisting snow removal crews with search and rescue. Erie County driving ban is still in affect. Stay off the roads, unnecessary vehicles traveling hinder crews from rescue and rescue. pic.twitter.com/Zq8dAplvyf
— NewYorkStatePolice (@nyspolice) December 26, 2022
Conflicting reports from law enforcement
Yet Raccuia’s words were contradicted by New York State Police public information director Beau Duffy in an email he sent to the News.
“The Buffalo Bills asked state police to escort team buses from the airport in Rochester to Buffalo, and the State Police denied the request,” he wrote.
“At the request of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, a trooper did assist with briefly escorting the teams buses off airport property in Rochester, but discontinued the escort once the buses reached I-490,” he stated.
Complicating things further was a statement from Bill Cooley, who serves as undersheriff for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. He told the News, “The Bills didn’t seek, nor were they provided with, an escort.”