Niagara Falls Peacemakers making inroads in beleaguered city

Crime in Niagara Falls remains in the spotlight

Mike Baggerman
April 24, 2019 - 12:39 pm

Donta Myles of Niagara Falls Peacemakers along Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls. April 24, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WBEN) - While city and police officials in Niagara Falls continue their push to lower crime, one local organization continues to make inroads in the community.

Niagara Falls Peacemakers, a volunteer group of individuals with ties to the community, act as a community and police liaison in the beleaguered community that has a violent crime rate of one in 89.

"We're here to bridge the gap and to keep peace within our community," member Donta Myles told WBEN. "We're here to have those conversations and actually engage. We're not community police. We are community engagement. We talk with the residents and try to get the understanding of what it is they may need concerning their safety."

Crime in Niagara Falls is not a new problem but has the spotlight on it after a Monday robbery at DiCamillo Bakery on Pine Avenue. The suspect also assaulted an elderly woman during the robbery in broad daylight. Niagara Falls City Councilman Bill Kennedy on Tuesday called for a summit of community leaders to get together and halt crime in the City of Niagara Falls. Mayor Paul Dyster on Tuesday night proposed the return of Safe Shopping Days in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Peacemakers are on call whenever an incident happens and act as a buffer between the parties involved and police.

"Our biggest way to combat (the negative perception) is to have more community engagement," Myles said. "The Peacemakers, we're basically a vehicle, we're not a private organization. We're an open vehicle that has monthly meetings every fourth Monday at 6:30 p.m. at our peace hub. We welcome everyone to see what we're about. That's the 'why' of having a Peacemaker organization."

Unlike their Buffalo counterparts, which has been around for decades, Niagara Falls Peacemakers have only been around for about a year and are still introducing themselves into the community. Myles encourages people to attend their meetings because of their goal to create a safer street for everyone.

"If the residents at large would actually come out and express their feelings and express their needs and concerns, we can come up with a resolution," he said. "If you see something, say something. It's not snitching. Snitching is for those people who are in the game. When you are a concerned citizen, I believe that if something is going on that is causing harm to your city and your part of the community, you should make sure that stuff is put out."

Currently, there are about 22-25 active volunteers for the Niagara Falls Peacemakers. Myles said none of their members are paid but he said they are still introducing themselves to the community.

"We're just trying to get our faces and when you see a yellow shirt you can trust what we're here for and what we're doing," he said. "We're here to be more proactive than reactive. Police don't stop or prevent crime. For the most part, they're responding to a call. (If we can get more community involved), then we can have that communication available where we can meet someone or catch something before it happens."

Learn more about Niagara Falls Peacemakers by clicking HERE

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