ORCAHRD PARK, NY - County leaders say the Buffalo Bills has had talks with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz this off season, trying to iron out details of boosting the police presence at home games.
For years, the Bills have been trying to respond to safety issues in and around Ralph Wilson Stadium. The problems include, excessive littering, minor property damage and aggressive behavior by fans.
The Erie County Legislature has approved a new law enforcement plan that will allow for more sheriff deputies to patrol this upcoming season.
"The largest impact that fans will notice is actually a dramatic increase inside the stadium," said Chief Scott Patronik of Special Services for the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
Patronik has been working Bills games for 12 years.
To improve safety this upcoming football season, 128 new sheriff deputies and 18 supervisors have been approved to patrol the games. Some will be outside working traffic, while most will be inside checking the aisles.
About 120 sheriff deputies will be inside Ralph Wilson Stadium. This is up from about a dozen last season.
Outside there will be about 100 sheriff officers. This is up from about 80 last season.
The deputies will get paid $36 per hour. Supervisors will get $39 per hour. The total cost for the stepped up security will be about $480,000 for the season. The Bills have agreed to reimburse the county to pay for the added officers.
"As it stands right now, all the anticipated expenses will be born by the Buffalo Bills, of course if there's additional overtime or additional need for staff, the county executive would need to come to the legislature for approval," said Legislator Betty Jean Grant, chair of the Erie County Legislature.
Patronik says the biggest issue for law enforcement is to create a fan-friendly event and stop disruptions wherever they may happen, which has been something fans, especially season ticket holders, have been wanting for years.
The added officers will join hundreds of security guards and police officers that already patrol the games. The Bills have said recently that a greater police presence is an important step to improving their Fan Behavior Policy.