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Rocco J. Diina today outlined plans he will institute if elected sheriff, claiming they would continue to reduce violent crime in Erie County.

Diina, the Democratic candidate and Buffalo's deputy police commissioner, said his plan revolves around a community policing policy involving neighborhood-based crime prevention programs.

The program will be modeled after a Buffalo Police Department plan that he said contributed to a 40 percent reduction in crime downtown.

"The key is to have retail shoppers, office workers, residents and civic leaders work with local officers to take measures to prevent crime," he said.

Diina, locked in a tight battle with Republican Patrick Gallivan to succeed retiring Sheriff Thomas F. Higgins, said his community policing plan includes increasing patrols, raising the visibility of sheriff's deputies and cultivating partnerships with town and village police agencies to share resources.

Diina also proposed establishing a citizens' police academy based on similar groups in Buffalo and other Erie County towns.

"Professional research and our experience demonstrate that a police agency's success rate rises when citizens are included in preventing and fighting crime," he said.

The plan would involve a 10-week training program that teaches crime prevention techniques and familiarizes residents with services offered by the Sheriff's Department.

Diina said his plan also includes programs for "zero tolerance" and a continuing modernization -- with details to follow in coming weeks.

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