Federal funds secured for Falls PD

Brian Higgins

A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is offering some much need cash for Falls cops.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Niagara Falls and Buffalo, announced Friday that the Niagara Falls Police Department has been awarded a $44,114 federal grant through the Department of Justice’s Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The money will assist in funding two part-time police liaison positions, as well as 16 handheld radios.

"This federal grant supports neighborhood safety by supporting police officers dedicated to community building," Higgins said. "And it keeps communication technology, fundamental to daily operations, up-to-date.”

The police liaison position is intended to help foster relationships between the department, community groups and residents by communicating the department’s work and initiatives, as well as working with other city agencies. The department will also use the 16 interoperable radios funded by the grant to supplement their current fleet of radios and replace those that are outdated or beyond repair.

Mayor Paul Dyster has warned that without the approval of a new garbage service fee and a small tax increase in his proposed 2020 city budget, the police department will face "catastrophic cuts." Included in those cuts would be the elimination of the department's Community Relations Division.

"These police liaison positions are an essential component of our community policing strategy," the mayor said. "This important investment is critical to fostering trust in our police department. On behalf of the residents of Niagara Falls, I want to thank Congressmen Higgins for his steadfast commitment to public safety in Western New York."

In 2015, Higgins secured a JAG grant that helped the Falls police purchase dozens of body cameras, the first police department in the region to do so.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program helps state and local governments with crime prevention and law enforcement activities. Funding can go towards anything from law enforcement programs, prosecution and court programs, drug treatment, victim and witness programs, mental health, and more.

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