Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti, Legislator Owen Steed, Niagara Falls Police Chief John Faso and members of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office kicked off “Niagara County Building Bridges” for the summer of 2021. The program helps foster relationships between children from the City of Niagara Falls and law enforcement in social settings, rather than police-related instruction.
“I really enjoy this program and interacting with our youth in a way that has them view our officers as their neighbors, not some faceless police force that shows up only when there is trouble,” Filicetti said. “Our social interactions hopefully make these young folks comfortable with law enforcement and show we are all part of one big community.”
Steed said 40 children between the ages of 8 and 12 will visit the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds, participate in a fishing exposition with the ENCON Police, go ice skating with members of a Division I hockey team and visit the Aquarium of Niagara, among other activities scheduled for days in July and August.
“As I have talked with many of our participants over the years, they admitted they were weary of police before the program,” Steed said. “But as they got to know our deputies, their view has become entirely positive. That is why this type of community outreach into our neighborhoods is so important.”
Filicetti said the partnership with the City of Niagara Falls and other local sponsors is an important part of the program’s success.
“Mayor Restaino and Chief Faso have been great partners and supporters of the program and share our vision to build links between law enforcement and the community,” he said. “I also want to thank the Packard Court Community Center and its general manager, Samika Sullivan, as well as the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, for allowing us to use their facility. And of course, special thanks to our business sponsors who create great experiences for the kids.”