Niagara County makes commitment to law enforcement academy

Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduates march into May 10’s commencement ceremony past dozens of flag-waving police supporters at Niagara Falls High School. (Paul Battson/contributor)

The Niagara County Legislature has moved decisively to pave the way for a new Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy on the Niagara County Community College campus in Sanborn.

The legislature unanimously approved a resolution that will commit up to $3 million in funding for the construction of a new academy complex. The money will come from the county's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, which draws from the county's allocation under the American Rescue Plan.

"I feel a lot of support from the county legislature and the county manager," Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti said. "It shows their commitment to training (law enforcement)."

The academy returned to the NCCC campus in July. It had been located on the campus of Niagara University in Lewiston,.

The move was triggered by a controversy over the university's support of the program.

While NCCC has provided a classroom and other facilities for the academy, Filicetti said a new building, with increased space and up-to-date technology, is needed to provide optimal training and education for future law enforcement officers.

"We are adding components to the academy that require more room than we currently have," Filicetti said. "These include a use of force simulator, a reality based training space for conducting exercises, a "mat room" for training in defensive tactics and four full classrooms. This will also offer opportunities for students at NCCC (in the Criminal Justice degree program) to use the facility."

The academy had been moved from NCCC to NU as part of a collaborative program between the institutions to offer pre-employment criminal justice students an opportunity to combine their college degrees with academy training. Filicetti said a similar arrangement is expected with the criminal justice program at NCCC.

The new academy would be a 14,000 square foot facility with a price tag estimated at more than $5 million. In addition to the new building, the project would also include the repaving of NCCC's Lot #4 parking lot.

The county hopes its $3 million dollar commitment will allow it to gain $2.5 million in matching funds from the SUNY Community College Capital Program to assist in the construction. The request for that funding is now pending before SUNY.

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