Community Outreach Spotlight
Submitted by Lieutenant Daniel Zimmerman of the Niagara County, New York, Sheriff’s Office.
The Niagara Falls, New York, Police Department and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office engage with their communities through the Building Bridges program — a free, youth-based, and interactive initiative. It is designed to foster relationships to strengthen familiarity and trust between members of law enforcement and children living in high-crime areas.
In Building Bridges, deputies and officers from both agencies chaperone numerous day trips and recreational activities every summer. These events take place throughout the Niagara Falls area and host up to 20 children aged 8 to 12 years old. The program allows participants to see uniformed personnel in a different manner — as people with similar interests and not simply armed officers. Interacting with at-risk youths in a social setting allows law enforcement to develop genuine, strong relationships built on trust and understanding.
Examples of these activities have included a field trip to the Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist boat tour and Cave of the Winds attraction, a basketball camp in cooperation with Niagara County Community College, tours of local businesses, ice cream trips, ice-skating at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena, a visit to the Aquarium of Niagara, lunch outings, and an interactive law enforcement display in the city of Niagara Falls.
Building Bridges was awarded the 2021 RISE Community Award, which honors programs that work hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to benefit the local community. The sponsor of the award provided a $7,500 grant to expand Building Bridges into more communities throughout Niagara County to help reach as many children as possible.
For more information about the Building Bridges program, contact Lieutenant Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.