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Police call Independence Day weekend at Buffalo's waterfront a huge success

Avery Schneider
The City of Buffalo's temporary police substation in the heart of the Canalside area

One of two long-awaited police substations in the City of Buffalo got its first major test this holiday weekend, and visitors to the city’s waterfront saw the benefit.

City of Buffalo Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo called the weekend’s Independence Day celebrations at Canalside and the Outer Harbor a “huge success.” Law enforcement officials from the city, along with Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office crafted a comprehensive plan to ensure a safe and fun weekend for all who visited from Friday through the conclusion of Tuesday night’s fireworks.

“We had a great police presence here yesterday and from the responses that we received, everybody seemed to have a good time,” said Rinaldo. Our estimated crowd was approximately 25,000 people here at Canalside, with another 15,000 visiting the Outer Harbor.”

One of the keys to the success of the weekend was the use of the city’s new police substation in the heart of Canalside.

“It allowed us to have a point of operation in terms of if there was a report that needed to be taken, other police resources, it just gave us a nice home base to work out of,” Rinaldo said.

Police reported no major incidents in connection with the events and fireworks at Canalside and the Outer Harbor. Rinaldo did specify that during the holiday weekend, from June 30 through July 4, city police responded to 4639 calls for service, made over 69 arrests, and seized more than 7 weapons.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The other key to the success of the weekend was the public heeding the advice of law enforcement and event organizers. Scores of visitors took advantage of public transportation, filling metro rail cars and busses to capacity, while others parked cars in lots further away from the waterfront and walked in. Rinaldo said the city’s new ride-hailing option appeared to play a factor, too.

“We don’t have numbers on how many Uber of Lyft drivers [there] were,” explained Rinaldo. “But I can tell you that our officers did report seeing the Uber cars in the area, dropping off, picking up. So I think that as that service becomes more and more widely used in the area, you’ll see it have a bigger impact.”

With their base of operations in the heart of Canalside, police were able to swiftly guide foot traffic into secured areas. Rinaldo said the lessons learned from the weekend will be reviewed with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and Canalside manager Be Our Guest. Those lessons will likely play a part in determining the final location of a permanent police substation.

“We are hoping that once the official brick-and-mortar substation is [in place] that it will be located kind of in this vicinity,” said Rinaldo, standing near the corner of Marine Drive and HanoverStreet. “I can’t speak to exactly if it’s going to be where we’re standing, next door, or possibly across the street. But it will be in the Canalside area.”

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.