State Funding Secured for New Police Patrol Boat

September 9, 2005

The City of Tonawanda Police Department will continue to be able to respond to emergencies on the Niagara River thanks to state funding Assemblyman Robin Schimminger announced today.

“I’ve just confirmed with Mayor Gallagher that I will be directing a state legislative grant of $50,000 to the City of Tonawanda to enable the Police Department to replace its aging patrol boat,” said Schimminger. “With these funds the Tonawanda Police Marine Division will again be able to patrol the Niagara River and respond to search and rescue emergencies up and down the river in the Tonawandas.”

After learning of the impending loss of the emergency service due to the current patrol boat’s deteriorating condition, Assemblyman Schimminger spoke with Tonawanda Mayor Jack E. Gallagher and offered his help. The mayor confirmed with Chief of Police Cindy Young that the Police Department’s current 20-year-old vessel, which had been obtained from U.S. Customs in 1990 after it was seized in a Miami drug arrest, is no longer seaworthy and is beyond repair. Chief Young had been trying to acquire another seized or donated boat from various sources, without success.

Mayor Gallagher said, “Once again, Assemblyman Schimminger has come through for his hometown. We could never budget for a new patrol boat using city funds. Between ongoing activities and special events, our waterfront is frequented each year by thousands of people and hundreds of boats. The delivery of law enforcement and rescue services on the water is not only a responsibility to those who live in and already come to Tonawanda, but is key to continuing to draw visitors and further economic development to our city.”

“Having grown up on Niagara Street in Tonawanda overlooking the river, I know how critical this life-saving capability can be for boaters and others along our riverfront. It would take another marine patrol – the Erie or Niagara County Sheriff’s Department or the U.S. Coast Guard – at least 20 minutes in the best of conditions to reach the Twin Cities, which could be too late in an emergency on the water. The new vessel will enable the Tonawanda Police to provide the first law enforcement response to emergencies on the Niagara River, the Erie Canal, and Ellicott Creek, particularly at times when other services may not be available, and also offer a helping hand to North Tonawanda, the Town of Tonawanda and other nearby communities in mutual aid situations,” said Schimminger.

“As a community which has built upon the success in developing our waterfront, it is essential we as a police department are able to provide marine law enforcement, rescue, and EMS services to those who visit our waterways,” said Chief Cindy J. Young of the City of Tonawanda Police Department. “Through the efforts of Assemblyman Schimminger, with a state legislative grant to replace our rescue boat, we will be able to fulfill our Marine Division’s primary mission of being able to provide immediate search and rescue capabilities for waterways off our immediate shores and surrounding communities when other larger agencies are either unavailable or are physically prevented from reaching Tonawanda or cannot provide a timely response because of distance.”

“With the likelihood that the Erie County Sheriff’s Department may be reducing its marine patrols because of the county’s mounting budget problems, it’s more important than ever that our city’s well-trained Police Marine Division continue to be there for us,” concluded Schimminger. “I’m glad I’m in a position to provide this state assistance for our community.”