Plans are underway to relocate the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy to the Niagara County Community College campus, county officials announced Thursday.
The academy is currently located at Niagara University, whose decision to move 2021 academy graduates' commencement ceremony off campus sparked fierce criticism from county officials including Sheriff Michael Filicetti and legislator David Godfrey.
The university reportedly made the decision in late April after learning that a group of NU students planned to attend the ceremony in an act of protest. Word of the protest appeared to surface after the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
Now is the "right" time to relocate the academy, Godfrey, chair of the legislature's community safety committee, asserted.
“The NCLEA successfully operated at NCCC for many years, and now the time is right to move it back there for several reasons, including putting both the program and its location under county control,” Godfrey said. “We are still working through some details but it is clear both the Sheriff’s Office and NCCC want this to happen, and the Niagara County Legislature will undoubtedly support this.”
The timing makes sense because the sheriff's office has a grant from state Sen. Rob Ortt that might be spendable on academy relocation, Filicetti added.
“We have a design firm right now working on the concept and we have been talking with the NCCC board and administration about putting the academy in other space in the interim,” Filicetti said. “The stars seem to be aligning on several fronts with everyone involved eager to make this move happen and funds available for the effort.”
The academy has been a partnership of the sheriff’s office, Niagara Falls Police Department and NU's Criminal Justice and External Programs departments. The academy has trained both hired and sworn officers as well as pre-employment recruits.
Filicetti said he appreciates NU's involvement in the academy.
“When the law enforcement academy was moved from NCCC to Niagara University, it was done in the best interest of our students and we have had a great working relationship with the NU administration,” he said. “Now, the opportunities afforded our students by returning to NCCC make the most sense and we look forward to a bright future for the NCLEA.”