Twelve brave men and one brave woman accepted diplomas Wednesday evening at Niagara University. They are the 55th graduating class of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, Niagara County's only approved training program for law enforcement officers.
Following an invocation by the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University, NCLEA Class President Jeffrey Swick addressed his classmates. Swick spoke of a phrase - "Backup is on its way" - that the recruits would use during times of struggle.
"Whenever we heard a classmate use those words, we knew they needed to be picked up," he said. "I'm so proud of the way that this group came together to support each other."
Wednesday night's ceremony was extra special for Swick, whose father, Village of Middleport Police Chief John J. Swick, presented him with his certificate of completion.
Chief Swick was one of several high-ranking law enforcement officials in attendance. Another was Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, who offered the event's keynote speech.
"Policing is a job of integrity and trust," the sheriff advised the graduates. "You will be your own boss on your shift for most of the day. You will be trusted to do the right thing even when no one is watching you. You'll have the ability to take away freedom and you'll be charged with protecting our world.
"That being said, the tool you will use the most during your career is a mirror. There may be times when you can fool a coworker or fool a supervisor. There may be times when you can fool the public or your friends. But when you look in the mirror at the end of each day, you can never fool yourself. Please use this tool each day. It may be the most effective tool you'll ever use."
NCLEA co-directors Sgt. Jill Herrington and Detective John Faso presented diplomas to:
Jeffrey S. Bissell, Lewiston Police Department
Derek Caldwell, pre-employment
Catherine Cardinal, pre-employment
Eric Corson, pre-employment
James Farmer, pre-employment
Robert Holmes, Niagara County Sheriff's Office
John Kirbis Jr., pre-employment
Justin Lhuillier, pre-employment
Curtis Monaco, pre-employment
Ryan Myers, pre-employment
Andrew Nemi, pre-employment
Gregory Sassone, pre-employment
Jeffrey Swick, Middleport Police Department
Holmes received the Sgt. Jeff Juron Defensive Tactics Award and was recognized for physical fitness, while Kirbis Jr. took top honors in academics and was presented with the Jeffrey A. Incardona Memorial Award. The Joseph E. Stablein Memorial Award went to Monaco. Cardinal was commended as the most improved recruit in terms of physical fitness.
The NCLEA began holding classes at NU on Feb. 28, 2011, making Niagara the only four-year, private college in New York to host a full-time police academy.
The academy curriculum includes basic courses for police and corrections officers, including firearm instruction, civilian dispatch training, DWI detection, accident investigation, radar operation, TASER use and fingerprinting, as well as seminars on developing topics such as homeland security.
Coordination of the program on Niagara's campus is undertaken by the university's Office of Continuing Education and criminal justice department.
For more information about the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, call 716-286-8759 or email [email protected].