Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 28, 2014

HUD funds will put "city ambassadors" in tourist areas for the summer

Niagara Gazette — It’s another way for the Falls to make the South End and downtown more tourist friendly.

And the cost is modest.

The city council is expected to act, at its meeting tonight, on a request from Mayor Paul Dyster and Falls police to hire a part-time supervisor for a summer Ranger Program. The supervisor’s salary would be $8,500 and the funding would come from block grant and casino funds.

The Ranger Program would be a targeted foot patrol operation that uses college students to act as “city ambassadors.”

“It’s pretty neat,” Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. “(The rangers) won’t be conducting law enforcement activities, but they will be in uniform and provide a visible protective presence.”

DalPorto said the rangers will help tourists visiting the Falls and serve as “eyes and ears” for patrol officers on the streets. 

“They will be a uniformed presence in the tourist areas and will give a greater sense of security to visitors,” DalPorto said. “We think it’s going to be a great program.”

The rangers will supplement additional police foot and bike patrols during the summer tourist season. DalPorto estimates rangers will be on the streets from late May until the end of August.

“Depending on how far we can stretch the funding, that’s how long we’ll use them,” the police superintendent said. 

DalPorto said it’s important to approve the funding for the ranger supervisor now, so that training for them can get under way. 

“They’ll be taught what to do in situations that may come up while they’re out (on the streets),” he said. “They are not a substitute for police officers. This is in addition to our officers on walking patrols, bike patrols and our special events patrols.”

The HUD grant will provide $120,000 for ranger stipends. 

“This will be a pilot project,” DalPorto said. “It could be expanded throughout the city.”

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