NIAGARA FALLS, NY – Some residents and business leaders in a Niagara Falls neighborhood are praising Wednesday’s police raids at a half dozen homes, resulting in 13 arrests for drug and nuisance crimes.
“I think people in neighborhoods, specifically in Niagara Falls, want this type of action, and we saw great support from the community yesterday,” said Bryan DalPorto, the city’s Superintendent of Police. “I think they are sick and tired of these type of nuisance level crimes, nuisance houses, and even nuisance people."
Along 22nd Street and Independence Avenue, where three of the raids occurred, residents who spoke with WGRZ-TV view their neighborhood as being on the brink, meaning it could go either way in the future in terms of safety and property values.
Streets are lined with some well-kept homes, but with pockets of blighted and abandoned structures, where problems in the form of vagrancy and drug dealers have cropped up.
Some residents, who declined to speak on camera because they are fearful of retribution should their neighbors who were arrested return, said they were so happy when the police action occurred that they “high-fived” members of the SWAT team when they concluded the raids.
These neighborhoods also run on either side of the city’s most venerable and popular commercial strips; Pine Avenue, where another raid occurred.
"It is the life line of the city," said Mike Capizzi, a restaurateur and President of the business association representing merchants on Pine Avenue.
"So whatever happens on the side streets is automatically linked to Pine Avenue," Capizzi said. “I think it's long overdue."
DalPorto revealed that one of the homes raided, had been subject of 90 police calls in the past year.
“In some of those locations…the issue that we deal with is the type of criminal activity which doesn't reach the threshold to get to the felony level," he said.
Indeed, most of the arrests made were for misdemeanors, including one individual who it turns out, had been arrested 59 times prior to this.
“I would call on our state legislators to really pass some legislation for persistent offenders because they are not only a drain on the police department, but the neighborhood as a whole,” DalPorto said.
Meanwhile, Capizzi had some advice for the politicians who run the city.
“If you start taking these measures, where you bring back our neighborhoods and you bring back our business district, we will come out and publicly support you,” he said.