NCSO, NFPD to continue partnership at new training center
Story and Photos by Terry Duffy
Tuesday marked an exciting beginning for the future of local law enforcement. Amid summer rain, county and state officials gathered with visitors from the law enforcement community to break ground for the new Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy training facility at Niagara County Community College.
To be located on the northern end of the campus, the new academy is a partnership of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Niagara Falls Police Department and NCCC. Funding for the project comes from the legislature and state resources.
“It’s my honor to welcome you today for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy,” Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said. “We’re very excited about this project. It is truly exciting to see this – moving forward on this state-of-the-art building for training women and men in our law enforcement community.”
Wydysh called the project “a great example of partnerships across the community working together for a common goal (that) can make things happen.”
Niagara University previously hosted the academy. The NCSO and NFPD opted to relocate the law enforcement training academy (NCLEA) back to the NCCC campus, where it all began in 1974.
“When we relocated the NCLEA a few years ago, we did so with a vision to create a modern, dynamic academy to train our future law enforcement personnel, and today’s groundbreaking is the first step in that direction,” Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti said. “It’s a great day and (a) very much anticipated day. I’m very excited to see this, the groundbreaking behind us, where this law enforcement academy is going to be. This building means so much to the law enforcement community, and the community that we serve here in Niagara County. It’s great to have all the police here, our state and federal partners, I thank you for your support.
“We’re just feet from where I went to the police academy in that very building (nearby). It’s a great location.”
Of the new, nearly 15,000-square-foot complex, Filicetti said the training facility will feature two floors of class space with moveable walls; a reality-based training center with a use-of-force simulator; men’s and women’s locker rooms; and office space.
“The academy building will be the hub of training for new recruits, preemployment recruits, current law enforcement officers, correction officers, and criminal justice students attending NCCC,” he said. “This would provide state-of-the-art training for the new additions that we currently do not have available to us. On the first floor, you’ll find four classrooms with the latest technology. A designated room will house a use-of-force simulator; this is cutting-edge training that we currently do not have. This is critical in developing (police) abilities in multiple scenarios – when to use force; de-escalation; communication skills; and dealing with mental health issues.
“On the first floor will be expanded officer space for our academy directors … and ample locker room space. On the second floor a moveable wall simulation room will be constructed. Multiple configurations will be available to test response to various shooter situations. There will also be a mat room to learn defensive tactical skills. These are critical skills necessary when responding to high-risk law enforcement events, like an active shooter or combative subject.
“Again, this is going to be our one-stop shop for all of our law enforcement training needs here in Niagara County. … It’s a great partnership with Niagara Community College, President (William) Murabito and so many others. I want to thank you for all your efforts in moving this project forward.”
County and state officials break ground (in the rain) Tuesday for the new Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy training facility.
Filicetti said the training center would continue to function in partnership with the NFPD as it’s done since 1974.
“The law enforcement academy is something that is critically important to this county and to society,” City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said. “The men and women that go through that academy protect all our communities. We are especially proud to be a co-director, to provide some of personnel there to train tomorrow’s law enforcement leaders.”
Restaino said Niagara Falls would provide funding via its relationship with Seneca Gaming Corp. “for a variety of different projects. One of them being a future Western New York Responder Preparedness Center that is in planning for the new facility.”
He said Niagara Falls would redirect $250,000 from Seneca Gaming Corp. funding toward the law enforcement academy. Restaino called it “the city’s contribution financially to this very, very important project.”
He said NFPD personnel also will continue their work with Filicetti and his staff in the academy’s operations.
“I look forward to the great opportunity it will give the 12 young men and women who choose law enforcement as their career path,” Restaino said.
Niagara Falls Police Department Chief John Faso has been a co-director of the academy for the past six years. He recalled the academy’s initial founding and said that, when complete, it would rank as “one of the best facilities of its type” to serve the demands of law enforcement training. “I am happy to see this support of the academy and the men and women who attend. It is appreciated by the staff and the many attendees.
“On behalf of the Niagara Falls Police Department, I want to thank everyone who was involved in this project,” Faso said. He paid special recognition to Murabito and to Filicetti for their “tireless work on this project, and recognizing the importance of the academy in Niagara County law enforcement. It’s always been a pleasure to co-sponsor this NCLEA with you.”
Assemblyman Michael Norris praised the cooperative relationship of federal, state and local officials on their teaming to make the new law enforcement center a reality: “It is just so important in today’s society that we properly train our law enforcement officials. For generations to come, law enforcement will be trained at this facility to protect society.
“These are key investments to our future.”