Grand Island residents, concerned about border security, are
asking for a greater police presence at Beaver Island and Buckhorn
state parks, given their proximity to Canada.
State lawmakers said they have heard from numerous residents
complaining about inadequate police presence at the state parks.
State Sen. Byron Brown, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt,
D-Buffalo, have forwarded their concerns to state parks police,
who say that they, along with the U.S. Border Patrol and the State
Police, are on heightened alert all along the river.
"It's a situation that certainly anything can happen, and
we recognize there's always a potential for problems," said
Chief Vincent Iacovitti of the New York State Park Police in
Hoyt said he doesn't think Grand Island is more vulnerable than
any other Western New York community to a terrorist attack.
"I don't think there's an imminent threat to the people of
Grand Island any more than the people of Buffalo or of
Oregon," Hoyt said. "There are certainly far easier
places (to enter the United States). This is not a natural or easy
crossing for anyone."
Nevertheless, some residents are concerned.
"Given the very real threat of additional terrorist
attacks, I would like (around-the=clock) park and marine
patrol," Charlotte Jean Yarwood of East River Road wrote to
state and federal officials.
Donald R. Palacios, assistant patrol chief of the Buffalo
Border Patrol office, said the Border Patrol has been attempting
to keep 24-hour watch of the area, seven days a week, since Sept.
Enhanced patrols have included the areas near Grand Island's
West River Road area and around Beaver Island State Park, Palacios
It would also be helpful to have more agents, he said.
That assistance may be coming with a new anti-terrorism bill,
approved last week by Congress, that will provide triple the
number of Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, and Border
Patrol agents along the U.S.-Canada border. It also means $100
million in additional funding to improve technology and provide
new equipment for monitoring the border.
Grand Island should benefit from that, officials say.
"If we get our share of that, it would help us
immensely," Palacios said. "We've been spread pretty
thin. If they were able to do that, it would give us tremendous
coverage in the area."
While the Border Patrol has not made any apprehensions related
to terrorism, Palacios said three Czechoslovak citizens were
arrested recently attempting to cross the lower Niagara River on a
rubber raft and also some individuals trying to cross the
International Railroad Bridge in Buffalo.