The Border Patrol has asked the West River Homeowners Association to be of assistance in keeping the Island’s international border with Canada safe. A letter from the chief agent follows:
Dear Grand Island Resident:
My name is Jeff Wilson and I am the Patrol Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Border Patrol Station. I am responsible for overseeing Border Patrol operations throughout Erie County. I am writing to ask you for your assistance in helping our agency combat criminal activity along our border with Canada. In recent months, we have seen a significant increase in human and narcotics smuggling activity along the West River. Twelve arrests have been made and over 100 pounds of narcotics seized between March 15, 2019 and April 28, 2019. In many of these cases, arrests were made as a result of calls from concerned citizens like you. These calls greatly improve our ability to respond to illicit activity on Grand Island, aide in our coordinated efforts with state and local LE partners and help secure our nation’s borders. If you observe suspicious, individuals, activity, vehicles or aircraft, we encourage you to contact the Buffalo Sector Border Patrol Dispatch Center and an Agent(s) will be notified to respond. Border Patrol Agents are available to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-331-0353. Thank you for all of your support and assistance. It is an honor to serve you and the community of Grand Island.
Jeff Wilson, Patrol Agent in Charge, Buffalo Station
The West River Homeowners Association circulated this statement:
“I urge everyone to program the 800 number in your cell phone so we can report anything that seems unusual or dangerous along the river. This benefits all of us and helps keep us safe. We used to have notices to hang near our phones but so many have no landline that it would be best to program the number in your phone(s) and keep an eye out for any problems. Remember what we’ve been told: SEE SOMETHING…SAY SOMETHING! Better to be wrong than to have ignored a potential crime.”
The Association is already upset with Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray over circumstances surrounding the closure of the former West River Parkway, and its repurposing as a bike path.
McMurray has signaled to supporters that he may run again for Congress in the 27th Congressional District, although some political observers say that spikes in narcotics trafficking through the Island could complicate his record on national security issues.
His critics contend that McMurray has largely ignored the opioid crisis while in office, which has consequences in a border community. Some residents Council would like the Town to take a more proactive approach, perhaps with a network of surveillance cameras positioned along the West River or with a more structured neighborhood watch organization.
It’s unclear whether the controversial repurposing of the West River Parkway into a bike path has had an impact on smugglers’ operations. Some residents argue that ‘more eyes on the street’ improve public safety, and that repurposing the roadway into a park has made it more difficult for smugglers to cross the Niagara River undetected. Other residents argue that new parking lots along the water’s edge make loading product into vehicles more efficient.