Christmas came a few days early for the 22 men and women who unwrapped hard-earned certificates of completion this afternoon at Niagara University, where the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy held its 56th graduation ceremony.
In thanking Niagara University for its partnership, Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour noted it was the first time he'd seen a standing-room-only crowd for the event.
Those in attendance saw the following individuals receive diplomas from NCLEA co-directors Sgt. Jill Herrington and Det. John Faso:
•James Bissell, Youngstown Police Dept.
•Brian Buchalski, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Stephen Cronmiller, Batavia Police Dept.
•Heather Farr, pre-employment
•Eric Foels, Batavia Police Dept.
•Peter Flanagan, Batavia Police Dept.
•Frederick Goldacker III, pre-employment
•Andrew Hale, Genesee County Sheriff's Office
•Erik Herbert, North Tonawanda Police Dept.
•Mi'ch-el Le King, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•David Kok, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Derek Kratts, pre-employment
•Michael P. Loncar Jr., North Tonawanda Police Dept.
•John Marcyan, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Robert Miles, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Adam Paul, pre-employment
•Kelly Rougeux, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Alexander Ruckh, pre-employment
•Christina Tyran, Niagara Falls Police Dept.
•Luke Udell, Niagara County Sheriff's Office
•Jared Voelker, pre-employment
•Nicholas Walter, Niagara County Sheriff's Office
•Walter - Academic Award
•Miles - Physical Fitness Award
•Ruckh - Sgt. Jeff Juron Defensive Tactics Award
•Bissell - Top Gun Award
•Herbert - Jeffrey A. Incardona Memorial Award
•Udell - Joseph E. Steblein Memorial Award
Completion of the academy marks the culmination of an intensive 22-week training program, featuring a curriculum for police and corrections officers that includes 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.
"Like many classes before us, we started as individuals, and ended up a single, cohesive unit," remarked Class President John Marcyan. "There were times when we struggled and there were times when we succeeded, but we always did it together."
The ceremony's keynote speaker was Michelle Y. Spahn, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Buffalo resident 0ffice. A highly decorated officer, Spahn worked alongside Iraqi judges and prosecutors to investigate crimes committed by Saddam Hussein against the Iraqi people in 2005.
She remains the only female who has ever successfully completed the foreign-deployed advisory support team assessment and indoctrination course, an eight-week rigorous physical training program led by U.S. Army Special Forces.
During her address, Spahn noted she fulfills her professional duties according to "C.O.R.E.," an acronym she said has helped her achieve great success. The components of the acronym are confidence, opportunity, respect and empowerment.
Spahn also advised the graduates, "Law enforcement is not a job, it's a calling. When we take that vow, we're given the public trust. We are to never violate that trust. Always do the right thing, even when nobody's looking."
The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president, echoed Spahn's words of wisdom. He added the university stands fully supportive as an active partner with law enforcement to effectively serve the community, especially those in need.
"What we celebrate today is the activation of your calling," Maher said. "Embrace this calling. Deepen this calling. Be the best that you can be."
The NCLEA, Niagara County's only approved training program for law enforcement officers, began holding classes at NU in February 2011, making Niagara the only four-year, private college in New York to host a full-time police academy.
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].