Buffalo Police have a new resource in their efforts to crackdown on crime across the city, and it debuts on the biggest party night of the year. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on Skywatch, and how police plan to use it.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The biggest party night of the year. It's the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season, and the official kickoff of stepped up police patrol in the City of Buffalo.
"Every holiday period beginning the day before Thanksgiving, we increase our police patrols," said Byron Brown, Buffalo Mayor.
And as party-goers started to make their way to the bars Wednesday afternoon, this year, the city's entertainment district will be no exception.
"Starting tonight going through New Year's Day, you will see K9 patrols, you will officers on foot," said Daniel Derenda, Buffalo Police Commissioner.
And now there's Skywatch. Wednesday night, Buffalo Police plan to shut down a block of Chippewa between Delaware and Elmwood to deploy the $200,000 machine, armed with HD cameras to catch every bit of action on the Chip Strip.
"It gives the officers the ability to go up above the crowd and get a 360, bird's eye view of what's going on," said Derenda.
And it allows them to respond to incidents at a moment's notice, like a recent crackdown on bars serving an underage crowd.
"Unfortunately five establishments either checked their I.D. and sold alcoholic or failed to even check their I.D.," explained Maj. Chris Cummings, New York State Police.
"At times, it's led to shootings, stabbings, robberies and we're really going to crackdown on it," said Derenda.
Officials say Skywatch will be manned by two officers throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, and they plan to use it at other events throughout the year.
"We want to make sure we're using all our resources and all of our tools to make sure that people have a fun and safe experience," said Mayor Brown.