Niagara Gazette — Two days before Thanksgiving, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer came to the Falls bearing a unique gift.
At a Third Street news conference, Schumer announced the Falls will be one of only eight cities, nationwide, to be partnered with the new U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center. The center aims to bring the "most advanced crime fighting techniques and expertise" to the cities that are linked it.
"The aim is to curb crime and spur development," Schumer said. "And it doesn't cost the city of Niagara Falls or county of Niagara a dime."
The center will bring federal experts into the city to partner with Falls police to "implement an evidence-based approach to criminal justice, juvenile justice and victim services issues."
"It will bring the most advanced crime fighting resources to the city," Schumer said. "There will be access to all sorts of federal resources, once (the federal experts and local police) come up with the best plan to address crime here."
Falls Police Superintendent John Chella said the federal reinforcements come at a critical time.
"2012 has not been a good year for Niagara Falls as far as crime," Chella said. "Our numbers (of crimes) are up in both violent and property crime. I welcome the opportunity for the federal government to give us a new set of eyes and a new perspective to drive numbers down."
Schumer noted that the federal crime experts will be looking at data that Falls police already collect as part of their CompStat program. The Diagnostic Center will also connect the local statistics into larger national data bases to aid in the analysis.
Some of the new approaches that are employed here could mirror efforts undertaken in places like New York City, which has greater resources to undertake evidence-based solutions to crime issues. Schumer pointed out that using these techniques, New York City has become the safest of the nation's 25 largest cities.