The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduated its 63rd class during a ceremony held Jan. 11 at Niagara University's Castellani Art Museum.
NCLEA co-directors Lt. Aaron Schultz and Det. John Faso presented diplomas to this semester's graduates:
New York Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello served as the ceremony's keynote speaker.
After turning the podium toward the graduates, he offered wisdom ascertained from his formidable experience as an attorney and 14-year tenure as a Niagara Falls City Court judge.
"During your career, you will encounter some who will lack respect for your chosen profession but, remember, they are not the majority," Morinello said. "They are just a small portion of the population. The general public knows better - and that is who you are here to serve."
Morinello, who was elected to his first term in the State Assembly last November, reminded the 17 men and women that they are being thrust into roles as stewards of the community, and that it is their duty to serve and protect.
"Always follow the rules of your oath. Respect yourself, respect your community, respect your faith. Come to work with a clear head. Leave personal distractions at home so you can assure yourself that you are going to come home," Morinello said.
Zuchlewski, the class president, expressed his appreciation for the support of family, friends and academy instructors over the past six months. He said he believes the graduates have been adequately prepared for lives as public servants.
"Being pushed to our limits and told to never give up helped get us to our goal," Zuchlewski said. "We learned to never stop fighting and to always come out a winner. With that mentality, we learned that there are no alternatives."
The NCLEA was established at Niagara University in 2011, making NU 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.
Several Niagara University administrators were in attendance at the graduation ceremony, including Executive Vice President Dr. Debra Colley and Interim Provost Dr. Timothy Ireland. In her closing remarks, Colley tied the noble responsibilities of law enforcement officers with the Catholic and Vincentian mission of Niagara University.
"Our mission (at Niagara University) is to serve those most in need - and that is what you will doing every single day," she explained. "So whether it's taking risks, whether it's your unbelievable courage, whether you are the first one in or the last one out, this is what you will do. You will be living this mission each and every day."