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Godfrey: Niagara County needs to rethink relationship with NU

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Tue, Apr 27th 2021 04:45 pm

Niagara University: Event would conflict with preexisting student reading days, exams

In light of Niagara University’s decision to not allow the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduation ceremony to take place on its campus as originally scheduled, Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey said it may be time to rethink about the relationship between Niagara County and NU.

“To say I am extremely disappointed in the actions of Niagara University is a tremendous understatement,” said Godfrey, chairman of the county’s community safety committee. “The women and men graduating from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy deserve our respect, and their accomplishments should be celebrated, not diminished, by being pushed off campus.”

Godfrey said he intends to meet with Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti to discuss the county’s relationship with NU and, in particular, whether the academy should be moved elsewhere.

“While NU provided a half-hearted explanation that a scheduling conflict led to the graduation being moved, this really seems to be about the university appeasing the anti-police crowd who threatened to protest the graduation,” Godfrey said. “If the NU administration feels more aligned with those who want to defund the police rather than those who serve and protect, then perhaps it’s time to end our relationship and move the academy elsewhere.”

Niagara University Associate Vice President for Public Relations Tom Burns said an alternate date was requested so as to accommodate students.

“We continue to have discussions with the Niagara County sheriff and the leadership from the police academy to see if we can find an alternate date for the graduation event,” he said.

“While there have been reports of planned protests for the police academy graduation, we are not aware of any such planned activity, nor are we aware of any university faculty member or employee working to organize such an event.

“In reviewing the university calendar, we recognized that the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduation event was scheduled during the university’s reading day and final exam week. Because the event was scheduled in a high-traffic student area and understanding these are critical days for our students as they prepare for their first in-person final exams and presentations since 2019 and the beginning of the pandemic, we did ask the academy to move a graduation event, which we have had to do periodically in the past as well.”

The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy is a partnership between the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Niagara Falls Police Department and NU that trains currently hired, sworn officers, and has been approved by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to train preemployment recruits. It is designed for current civilians throughout New York who are interested in entering the law enforcement.

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