They’ve been Tased, pepper-sprayed and bitten by trained police dogs. Now, the members of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy’s class of 2011 have something to show for it.
Seventeen brave men and women received diplomas during the NCLEA’s 52nd graduation ceremony, held in August on the campus of Niagara University, where the academy began conducting classes in February 2011.
“You should be extremely proud of yourselves, as I know we’re proud of you,” said Niagara Falls Police Officer Nicholas Ligammari, who oversees the program with Sgt. Jill Herrington of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. “You all have great potential and I’m confident that potential will be fulfilled.”
On Feb. 25, 2011, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and the Niagara Falls Police Department announced that the NCLEA would be relocated from Niagara County Community College to Niagara University. Three days later, the county’s only approved training program for law enforcement officers began conducting classes on Monteagle Ridge, making NU the only 4-year, private college in New York to host a full-time police academy.
Monday’s ceremony began promptly at noon with an honor guard and bagpipe processional that led graduation candidates to their seats. In attendance were captains representing several Niagara County law enforcement agencies, including Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour and Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John R. Chella as well as the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University, and Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.
“Prosecutors work very hard to ensure that our communities are safe and to keep the bad guys off the street – and that all starts with having these guys on the street,” Violante,” told the recruits’ family and friends assembled in NU’s Castellani Art Museum.
Following Violante’s speech, Herrington and Ligammari presented diplomas to:
* Spencer Barnes, Lewiston Police Department
* Michelle Day, North Tonawanda Police Department
* Louis Faust, Pre-employment recruit
* Keith Hetrick, Pre-employment recruit
* William Jones, Lockport Police Department
* Katie Jozwiak, State Attorney General’s Office
* Darryl Kroening, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office
* Kristina Ligammari, Niagara Falls Police Department
* Nicholas Locicero, Barker Police Department
* Matthew Lutey, Barker Police Department
* Travis Maggard, Pre-employment recruit
* Ryan Mang, Niagara Falls Police Department
* Kevin Olejar, Lewiston Police Department
* Kristopher Proietti, Niagara Falls Police Department
* Joshua Salada, Village of Youngstown Police Department
* Anthony Sicurela, Lewiston Police Department
* John Vosburgh, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office
Class President William Jones, of the Lockport Police Department, then gave an address that began lighthearted – “The class consisted of recruits from a variety of backgrounds. We had accountants, linguists, airline employees, paramedics, war combat veterans, and Nick Locicero.” – but proceeded with sincerity.
“Over the course of this academy, we’ve grown into police officers. Even though this academy is done, we know we are not done learning. Every new day until retirement likely will pose new challenges and these are challenges that we are ready and willing to take.”
Jones concluded his portion of the program by presenting Herrington and Ligammari with a plaque as a token of the class’ appreciation for their instructors, “whose hard work, dedication and guidance are unmatched.”
Founded in 1973, the NCLEA was originally formed to serve the police agencies of Niagara County, but is now assisting law enforcement departments in Erie, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Livingston counties as well.
The NCLEA 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.
“As a university, our focus is always on excellence, excellence in everything that we do, especially in the classroom or wherever our students may be,” said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. “We give them the ability to be proud members in the world, leaders in the world, and transformers of the world. Here we have another noble group of people with a profound dedication to service to others. That makes Niagara University proud.”
Additional photos are available on Niagara University's Facebook page.