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ANALYSIS By Mike Hudson

A comprehensive plan for protecting government officials here by pulling police officers away from the city's high-crime districts has emerged following the shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona.

Mayor Paul Dyster went so far as to tell reporters that the sparsely attended "mayor's night in" events he holds sporadically in his City Hall office are a lot like the Arizona event, in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with hundreds of constituents in the parking lot of a shopping center on a busy Saturday afternoon.

So concerned is he about his own personal safety that he ordered city Police Superintendent John Chella to increase road patrols around public buildings, including City Hall and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's new Park Place offices, and also near the private homes of some government officials.

As the mayor made his announcement, a home on Centre Avenue was hit with 11 bullets fired from the street in the latest increasingly common shooting incident here. No stepped-up security measures have been announced for the residents of that house.

Despite the fact that the Arizona shooter, Jared Loughner, is a paranoid schizophrenic with no discernible political philosophy, Dyster sought to blame the isolated incident on partisan politics.

"We can disagree, but we can be kinder and gentler about it," he said.

City Administrator Donna Owens, who has had a police officer assigned to sit outside her office door for a couple of years now, agreed with her boss, adding that the city "needed to take a look at keeping our citizens and officials safe."

City Hall sources say Owens is so worried about security that she locks her office door when she leaves work and will not permit cleaning staff to enter unless she is there to watch them.

While scores of citizens have been slaughtered on city streets over the past decade, not a single official has been harmed. There hasn't even been a threat against a public official here that might warrant the stepped-up police presence.

Addressing problems that don't exist is a specialty of the Dyster administration. In this particular case, however, Dyster is sacrificing a measure of safety for the people of Niagara Falls in order to protect himself and the rest of the city's ruling elite.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jan. 25, 2011