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Local leaders collaborate to promote safety in parks

Ashley Hirtzel

Erie County leaders are collaborating to promote safety and maintain a family-friendly atmosphere in county parks.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the law enforcement presence will be ramped up in county parks throughout the summer months. The effort is meant to deter drug related activity and acts of vandalism.

“The parks are some of our greatest resources that we have in Erie County. Chestnut Ridge Park alone is more than 1,200 acres of pristine wilderness and we want to ensure the integrity of our parks, as well as the ability of the public to come to the parks and enjoy them on a daily basis without having to worry about mischief,” said Poloncarz.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard says in order to discourage illegal activity and maintain a safe and fun park environment patrols will be visiting the parks at various times of the day. He says they will be utilizing the Sheriff’s Office Mounted Division, ATV’s and Marine units to access inaccessible areas of the parks.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard standing with members of the Sheriff's Office Mounted Division.

“We’re very pleased to be joining in this effort to minimize any damage. At the same time to the individuals that come to the park to makes sure that with the expenditure with a little more effort on our part that we can not let the pleasures of the lawful park-goers be decreased, because of someone’s unlawful, offensive or inappropriate acts,” said Howard.

Howard says he’s encouraging people to report anything out of the ordinary that they witness in county parks. Erie County Parks Commissioner Troy Schinzel says the collaborative effort is key in protecting park-goers and the parks themselves.

“I want to thank the Sheriff’s patrols for the assistance they are providing. Our parks system is large and very well-used, so these patrols will provide an extra layer of security and help to discourage the inappropriate behaviors we typically see during the summer months while giving families and recreational park users an added sense of safety,” said Schinzel.

Poloncarz says it’s important to keep area parks clean and safe for future generations to enjoy.