An assault and robbery in Buffalo's entertainment district lands an off-duty Erie County Sheriff's deputy in the hospital with broken bones.
The incident happened on Pearl Street near Chippewa. Police say three or four assailants jumped the deputy around 3:00 a.m. on Saturday. They beat up the deputy and stole his wallet, badge and phone.
Despite the incident some bar managers on Chippewa Street still consider the area very safe. "I think this is probably one of the safer places in the city to go out," says Jay Manno, General Manager at Soho, "The Buffalo police have been cooperating and doing a pretty good job, it's a pretty good size detailed down here every weekend."
Some Chippewa bar workers told Eyewitness News that they've noticed a recent increase in "loiterers" or young people who come to Chippewa and just hang around outside the bars on the sidewalks, particularly late at night. "We were having some problems with some young people down here that just really don't have any business being down here, they can't get in any of the bars so they kind of just hang around in the front and just loiter and make people feel a little uncomfortable," says Manno.
Nearly 30 Chippewa area businesses have joined forces to take on the problem and help police keep the area safe. "We hired private security to handle the street and keep people moving and keep people safe and make sure people like yourself can feel safe going to and from the bars and restaurants to cars in the parking lots," explains Manno.
Manno also points to signs that the reputation of Chippewa as mainly a party district for the young is changing. "(There are) a lot more new concepts down here, more restaurant concepts, a little less party bars. It used to be you walk down here and 6 or 8 bars would be playing the same music. Things have changed a little bit," says Manno.
As for crime, Buffalo police say they will continue to monitor how they handle their patrols on Chippewa and adjust as needed.