Niagara Falls Police Department Refusing to Enforce Orders from Family Court

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The Niagara Reporter has learned a truly sad story of a West Virginia father attempting to regain custody of his nine-year-old son.

Having spent more than $17,000 in legal fees fighting for sole custody of his child, the father, Shannon Smith, took a Final Order granting him sole custody from Berkeley County Family Court in West Virginia to Niagara Falls where the child had been taken by the mother.

Upon arriving in Niagara Falls, Mr. Smith went to the police and asked for their assistance in enforcing the court order.

Police, however, said that they would not.

“That is a civil matter,” said one officer. “[It] needs to be handled in family court.”

However, Mr. Smith had already went to family court, spent $17,000 on legal fees, and obtained a final order granting him sole custody of his child. That was still not good enough for the Niagara Falls Police Department as they told the father to try contacting child protective services.

This is not the first instance of Niagara Falls Police not enforcing court orders. The Niagara Reporter has learned of numerous occasions where police refuse to enforce orders of protection, stay away orders, or enforce custody orders when one or both of the parties are in family court; even when they are issued in Niagara County. The favorite line from officers being, “that is a family court issue.”

According to local Niagara Falls attorney Nicholas D. D’Angelo, Esq., the stance of the Niagara Falls Police Department when it comes to enforcing such orders could not be more incorrect.

“It is the role of the court to issue orders and, if they do, they need to be enforced by law enforcement,” said D’Angelo. “Going through the court process is time consuming and stressful as it is and to turn people around after obtaining orders of sole custody and to tell them to go back to Family Court, Supreme Court or other court that issued the order is wrong.”

Going on day four, Mr. Smith continues to run from agency to agency attempting to gain access to his child while the mother keeps him locked in her home.

As of today, Mr. Smith has availed himself to the resources of Niagara Falls Police (who have said they won’t help), Child Protective Services (who have said they will look into it), New York State Police (who say they do not have jurisdiction in Niagara Falls), and Niagara County Family Court.

Yet, his son still sits locked in the mother’s home – not being sent to school or allowed out of the house – as she attempts to prevent the father from exercising his custody over the child.


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