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Niagara Falls Station

1708 Lafayette Avenue
Niagara Falls, NY 14305
Phone: (716) 285-6444
Fax: (716) 285-6460

History
Niagara Falls Station is one of the oldest Border Patrol Stations in the United States. The current Station area of responsibility covers 73.2 miles in the Niagara Falls area.

In 1920 the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted and the ensuing Prohibition Era helped to clarify the need for a more organized U.S. Border Patrol (U.S.B.P.). The Labor Appropriation Act of 1924 officially established the U.S.B.P. for the purpose of patrolling between designated inspection stations. Smuggling of alcohol and moonshine was rampant along the entire U.S. Canada border during the early years of the Border Patrol's existence. Armed confrontations between Patrol Inspectors and smugglers were commonplace throughout the 1920's and early 1930's on the northern border. Niagara Falls was not immune to the violence. On March 24, 1932, Patrol Inspectors (P.I.) Frank Vidmar Jr. and James W. Hudson encountered a vehicle laden with illegal alcohol. After the smuggler refused commands to stop, a lengthy high speed chase ensued. P.I. Vidmar was killed and P.I. Hudson seriously injured when their vehicle skidded on icy pavement and crashed into an oncoming trolley car in Niagara Falls, NY, during that chase.

Throughout World War II Niagara Falls Agents continued their regular patrol duties while assisting whenever necessary in the war effort. Patrolmen remained on high alert throughout the war years for potential Axis saboteurs attempting entry from Canada. Local Patrolmen were also constantly aware of the existence of a prisoner of War camp for German Afrika Corps prisoners which was located at Fort Niagara, Youngstown, NY (near Niagara Falls).

During the ensuing decades the Niagara Falls Station continued to patrol its area of responsibility utilizing a variety of marine and air assets, and by good old fashioned foot (and snowshoe) patrol in the rugged Niagara Gorge. Agents readily adapted to complex changes to our nation's immigration laws and to various national crises during the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. These included; airlifts (of illegal aliens) to Mexico in the 1950's, domestic air marshal duties in the 1960's, and the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980. Agents maintained a high level of professionalism throughout those years.

With increased manpower following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks Agents have discovered a wide variety smuggling attempts. These included; drug mules arrested trying to gain entry by crawling along the treacherous framework underneath the Whirlpool Bridge, smuggled alien loads which crossed the Niagara River on small inflatable rafts, alien and narcotics loads in larger boats, and a multitude of alien arrests following other agency calls.

References:

  • THE U.S. BORDER PATROL, by: Clement D. Hellyer
    E.M. Hale & Company, 1963, pp.68-69 & pp. 112-113.
  • CBP.Gov, U.S. Border Patrol History, published- 7/15/2003, PP. 1-5.
    The Niagara Gazette (newspaper), article dated 3/26/1932,"Probe Crash Which Took Life Of Border Patrolman At Falls".

The Niagara Falls area is home to three International Ports of Entry, the Rainbow Bridge, Whirlpool Bridge and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. The civilian entity charged with the caretaking of this bridge is the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The board of commissioners has eight members, four appointed by the Ontario Premier and four by the Governor of the State of New York. They are headquartered in Lewiston, New York.

Area of Responsibility
The Niagara Falls Border Patrol Station area of responsibility (AOR) encompasses a wide range of geographic features that require unique operational tactics and a unique knowledge set amongst its agents. The AOR consists of 73.2 miles of international boundary and over 523 square miles of terrain ranging from the major tourist destination of Niagara Falls, where agents encounter citizens from across the globe; along the Niagara River, where agents maintain vigilant watch for illegal incursions on a treacherous stretch of waterway; to the shoreline of Lake Ontario, which is a mere 40 miles from the major Canadian population center of Toronto. The location and geographic features found in the Niagara Falls Station AOR pose operational challenges to accomplishing the National Border Patrol's Strategy of maintaining operational control of the border of the United States.