Pine Avenue in Niagara FAlls on April 16, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Dyster proposes return of Safe Shopping Days in Niagara Falls

Wants initiative returned to lower crime in Niagara Falls

April 24, 2019 - 7:50 am

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WBEN) - In response to the recent robberies on Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls, Mayor Paul Dyster is calling on the city council to restore its "Safe Shopping Days" initiative.

The program includes the use of uniformed and plain-clothes officers to saturate city business districts and promote safe shopping and community relations.

"This administration does not engage in political grandstanding," Mayor Dyster said in a statement on Tuesday night. "Rather, our focus should be on proven efforts to support our police department with real-time results. In years past, when similar concerns arose throughout the city, past councils responded by allocating funding for this proven safety initiative. It is my hope that the current council will do the same and work with Chief Licata and myself to address the needs, not only of Pine Avenue but of all businesses here in the City of Niagara Falls."

City Councilman Bill Kennedy on Tuesday called for a summit of local, county, state, and federal officials to come up with ideas to lower the crime rate in Niagara Falls, which is among the highest in New York State. According to the FBI's latest violent crime statistics, there were 544 in Niagara Falls in 2017. One in every 89 people are reportedly victims of violent crime in Niagara Falls versus 357 across all of New York State.

"This is not just about Pine Avenue, this is about the entire City of Niagara Falls," Kennedy said. "We have incidents on a regular basis. Even the other day, 18th and Michigan, a stabbing. There's things that happen on the North End constantly. I'm here to represent the entire city, not just Pine Avenue."

Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Thomas Licata in a statement said the Safe Shopping program is a "fantastic opportunity" for police and community to build a "trustworthy relationship".

Safe Shopping Days first began in 2008. It was a 15-week period in the spring and summer on varying shopping days along Pine Avenue, Niagara Street, North End, Downtown, Route 62, and Buffalo Avenue. Safe Shopping Days was funded through a grant provided by New York State. According to a release by the mayor's office, it stopped in 2014 when it transitioned from "Impact to the Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative", also known as GIVE. The program was also funded using casino revenues.

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