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More police added for football games

An additional eight police officers will patrol neighborhoods near Sal Maglie Stadium on Friday nights to stop the rowdyism young people have been causing after Niagara Falls High School football games.

The increased patrols will begin Friday before, during and after the Wolverines' 7:30 p.m. homecoming game against Williamsville North High School. They also will be in effect Oct. 7 for the team's last home game, against Niagara-Wheatfield High School.

Superintendent Carmen A. Granto said the move was needed because "kids have been raising hell," mostly in the area from Pierce Avenue to Linwood Avenue and 24th to 22nd streets after leaving the high school football stadium.

Police Superintendent John R. Chella said he had discussed the problem with school officials Monday and worked out a strategy to discourage bad behavior by adding security in neighborhoods near the stadium.

"These kids have been terrorizing the neighborhoods," Chella said. "They damage property like gardens and bushes, and scratch cars, things like that. They've been doing things like urinating, swearing, making a lot of loud noise and even getting into fights. It's all quality-of-life type of things."

The School District agreed to pay for four of the additional officers, while the Police Department will pick up the cost for the other four, Chella said.

He also said Granto decided to make sure all children younger than 14 are accompanied by an adult -- preferably a parent or guardian -- if they want to attend the games. High school students must show their student identification cards to get in.

Chella said he had suggested starting the games earlier Friday, but that was not possible because Niagara Frontier League officials already had set the schedules.

"Basically, we decided to add security and the admissions measures to see if that does the trick," Chella said.

If the strategy doesn't work, he said police and school officials will get back together after the football season, analyze what happened and take appropriate measures next year.

"There are no problems at the games, inside the stadium or in the parking lot," Granto had told the School Board last Thursday. "We have about 20 to 30 security people there. The trouble comes after people leave the area."

He said middle school students and others who do not attend the high school appear have caused most of the problems.

Granto said he wanted to do something fast because of Friday night's homecoming game. He said he doesn't want to start games earlier because many parents would not be able to arrive in time to see their children play.

"Friday night games have become an event around here," and the district does not want to change that, he added.

Changing game times to afternoons would not change behavior, he said.

"These kids aren't afraid of daylight," the superintendent said. "They aren't vampires. They'll [cause trouble] right in front of everybody."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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