Cracking Down on Crime
Cracking Down on Crime.
(A Detailed Plan)
The City of Niagara Falls is facing significant challenges. Whether it be a budget shortfall, a failed tax structure or an increase in violent crime, one thing is for certain: We can do better. We must do so to ensure a brighter future for our children. In this blog post, I will focus on the ever-important issue of crime and public safety. The time to act is now.
I envision a healthy, safe Niagara Falls where residents don’t have to worry about locking their doors. Where kids can ride their bikes freely and play outside free of worry from being struck by a stray bullet. Where the drug epidemic is a thing of the past and shall never return because we will make sure of it. As I continue to walk neighborhoods and knock on every door, it is clear the issue of violent crime in the City of Niagara Falls must be addressed, head on. For that, we have a plan.
I am aware, as the rest of you are, that violent crimes are being committed on our streets, everyday. I believe in the men and women of our Police Department and all of our first responders. They walk directly into worst-case scenarios that the rest of us pray to avoid. These officers put their lives on the line when they leave their homes, in order to keep the rest of ours safe. They are ready and willing to do the tough but necessary job of getting guns and criminals off the streets. I am committed to aggressively fighting crime and pushing back against those that wish to do harm to city residents and local businesses.
There are straightforward ways to both support the Police Department’s mission and make our neighborhoods stronger in the process. Albeit scary, changes are necessary. As mayor, my administration would focus on:
- Efficiency. Better utilization and deployment of our current officers across each unit within the police department. This makes good business sense and will help reduce departmental costs and allow us at the same time to flood the streets with more officers. For this to work, we must have conversations and open lines of communication with the Niagara Falls Police Club as to not violate union contracts and to also take into account the opinions and needs of our front line officers. While I firmly believe we need to hire more police officers, until that time comes, we need to utilize our current staffing levels more efficiently.
- Policy. The Niagara Falls Police Department has implemented extremely progressive policies, procedures and trainings on Use of Force, Use of Force Reporting and De-Escalation Techniques. We need to let our policy and procedure be the guiding light with which our officers go out and proactively patrol the city streets and aggressively fight crime. Our message to the men and women in blue would be: “Give us your best work, every day. The right way, every day. And we will have your back, always.”
- Data Driven Policing. This is the essence of 21stcentury policing. We are fortunate to house the Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center. We must make it a priority to utilize the center and the officers assigned to it to create hot spots and targeted enforcement areas to better utilize our personnel and our efforts. Let’s give our officers the analytical tools to effectively and efficiently target criminals. Fact-based intelligence must drive our entire police department.
- Procedural Justice. This is the idea of fairness in the processes that resolve disputes and allocate resources. Procedural Justice is used to create hot spots, top offender lists and targeted enforcement actions. This ensures that innocent citizens will be limited in their unwanted interactions with police. We will become the lead police agency on community buy-in and fair and just policing strategies.
- Community Policing. Doubling down on community policing strategies, which introduce young people to officers in non-emergency situations. Our summer community events have been successful and funded by competitive grants. As mayor, I would expand the event schedule to the winter, bringing back night gyms and continuing to develop facilities like the new north-end community center. Our young people need constructive activities, and we can creatively give them more, in their neighborhoods, with the help our police force.
- Expansion.We will work to implement an expansion of the Roving Anti-Crime Unit to address quality of life and neighborhood nuisance issues in a pro-active manner. Their primary mission would be to get guns and criminals off the streets by utilizing data on hot spots and top offenders provided by the Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center.
- Engagement.Continuing to work with community organizations like the Niagara Falls Peacemakers, NF Angels, Ministerial Council, Magdalene Project, block clubs, and others to grow our network of neighborhood partners. More conversations can bring more trust, which helps police officers get their jobs done.
We can no longer wait for the seasons to chance or accept the adage of “this happens every year at the same time, let it blow over” when it comes to violent crime in our city. The solution is multi-faceted and involves both a short-term and a long-term investment in the community. Real results cannot be found in naïve political statements or with our heads in the sand. It is going to take hard work and maybe some sacrifices along the way. Policing is a thankless job, but I have full confidence in our men and women in blue.
Public safety is the most important service provided by the government. The solutions I am presenting, combined with the work our Police Department is already doing, can make a difference. They WILL make a difference, if we let them.