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Building Bridges: the goal of one Niagara Falls program

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 27, 2020

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Niagara Falls City Police Officer Ali Mayes is on patrol. But Monday’s beat is different.

Mayes and other officers and Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputies are working to build relationships with a group of children from Niagara Falls.

“If ever do go to their house, they’ll know that’s my friend. They’re here to help me. They’re not afraid of us, and we really get to build that community relationship,” Mayes explained.

Mayes is part of something called "Building Bridges." For the next two weeks, the officers will be taking 20 kids who were enrolled in after school programs in Niagara Falls to visit various attractions. Organizers said the program is being made possible thanks to community partners.

Attractions include the Maid of the Mist, the Aquarium of Niagara, and Confer Plastics.

“We’ve got a wide range of activities. So, hopefully everyone has fun on the different things we’’re doing,” Mayes said.

For participants like Legend Lewis, the attractions are fun. But, she’s interested in getting to know the officers, as well. The 10-year-old said she doesn’t know anyone personally in uniform.

“I don’t get to be around many people in general, and it’s nice to be with authority figures,” Lewis said.

“I hope they see these officers again and say hey, they took me on the maid of the mist or they played basketball with me,” added Niagara Falls Fourth District Legislator Owen Steed.

Building Bridges is slated to end in two weeks. But, organizers are hoping to make the program more permanent.