Niagara Falls mayor shares plan to curb perception of high violence in city’s shopping district

Local News

While Niagara Falls police investigate a brazen mid-day robbery at a popular business district bakery, elected officials are working on a plan to cut down on crime.

According to Niagara Falls Councilman Bill Kennedy, the clerk of DiCamillo’s Bakery on Pine Ave. was “punched” during that robbery by the suspect, who got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The clerk’s coworkers say she is in the 60s. Mayor Paul Dyster says she was not seriously injured. Still, it sent a ripple across the business district.

“Definitely shocking,” said Bryant Smith, who owns Floss Barbershop. “Things that you don’t normally expect to happen are happening. It’s unfortunate.”

On the cusp of another busy tourist season, Dyster is asking the city council to bring back “Safe Shopping Days”. He noted that it’s to ease the perception business owners have, even if it doesn’t match reality.

“We’ve seen the latest crime statistics,” Dyster said. “We show a decrease in crime in the City of Niagara Falls over the last several years.”

The latest FBI stats do show that violent crime in Niagara Falls is down since 2012. But Councilman Kennedy doesn’t buy it.

“For far too long, we have been told that statistics are down,” Kennedy said. “You know what else is down? Our population.”

That’s why on Tuesday, one day after the DiCamillo’s robbery, Kennedy called for a solution. Dyster answered by asking the council to approve funding for “Safe Shopping Days”, under which a special police detail would patrol the Pine Ave. business district over the next 15 weeks. It was last in effect in 2014.

“We think that would have a visible impact, both in the Pine Ave. business district and the other business districts around the city,” Dyster said.

He’s says the detail would cost $50,000.

“We’re proposing to use some of our remaining tribal revenues,” Dyster said. “We have $2.2 million in the tribal revenue fund.”

“I support that, because when you have an area like this, you have the neighborhoods right behind it,” Smith said. “It’s easy for people to try to commit a crime and get away.

“I hope no one tries to commit a crime in here because we’re going to take it with the same force as you commit it with.”

The council has a special meeting on Tuesday, at which members are expected to consider Dyster’s request.

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