Border Patrol betters its view of upper Niagara
June 23, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The U.S. Border Patrol is bettering its view of the upper Niagara River with 10 new cameras along the stretch flowing toward Niagara Falls.

The agency's cameras already monitor the lower river, at four sites below the Falls, for signs of smuggling or illegal entry from Canada. The upper Niagara, while popular with recreational boaters, is more dangerous to those in ill-equipped rafts or boats because of the risk of getting swept away.

"We've apprehended rafts on this side of the Falls," spokesman A.J. Price said. "The closer to the Falls the better because they expect we figure it's too dangerous to cross."

The cameras have a dual purpose, allowing agents to keep a constant eye on the narrow river separating the U.S. and Canada while acting as a deterrent for criminal activity, Price said.

Agents will be able to track boats that leave Canada and dock in the U.S., for example, to make sure the occupants stop at one of the two designated checkpoints to present identification. They will also watch for boats that meet on the river to transfer contraband or people.

A crane hoisted two 600-pound microwave transmitters atop a 13-story riverfront Buffalo apartment building on Tuesday that will send images from two cameras at that location to a Border Patrol command center north of Buffalo.

Other cameras are going up at the Coast Guard's Buffalo station, on Grand Island north of Buffalo and about two miles upstream of Niagara Falls, at a site where water is diverted for hydropower.

"There's not going to be one site along the Niagara River that we cannot monitor," Price said.

The government in March chose Boeing Co. to erect a total of 16 video surveillance towers in New York and Michigan at a cost of $20 million. Eleven of the towers are being installed in the Detroit area.

The project is part of the government's Secure Border Initiative charged with developing technology to improve border security. The Buffalo and Detroit sectors were targeted first because of their mix of urban and rural environments, authorities have said.


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