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Niagara County, N.Y., and College Partner for Public Safety

SUNY Niagara College and Niagara County have collaborated on an $8 million Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, billed as a state-of-the-art training center for future public safety professionals.

(TNS) - It was a first look inside one of the largest investments in public safety ever undertaken in Niagara County.

Sheriff Michael Filicetti and SUNY Niagara President William J. Murabito threw open the doors Monday for a hard hat tour of the new $8 million Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy (NCLEA). The facility is billed as a state-of-the-art training center for future public safety professionals.

"This is a joint venture between the county and the college," Murabito said. "There is a need for the academy to have a home and to have the best facilities and the best technology."

The SUNY Niagara President predicted that by the "end of the summer," the current 26-member basic training class will be taking advantage of all the new opportunities that the facility will offer. Murabito said he expects that when construction of the new academy is completed it will serve as a hub for police training for law enforcement agencies throughout Western New York.

While much of the exterior of the academy is completed, the interior remains a work in progress. Filicetti led the tour of the two-story building that features offices, classrooms and locker rooms on the first floor. The main floor will also feature a high-tech use of force simulator that Filicetti said can produce "thousands of potential situations" that officers could encounter on patrol."

"It's a fantastic training tool," the sheriff said. "Something we don't have right now."

The first-floor lobby will also feature a video board that will show, on a continuous loop, pictures of all the academy's basic training classes.

The entire second floor is currently an open space that will eventually be outfitted with moveable walls to allow recruits to prepare and train for any number of reality-based tactical scenarios, including active shooters. It will also feature a simulated jail pod for training corrections officers.

The new academy building will be 15,000 square feet and serve as the hub for the basic training of new law enforcement recruits, pre-employment recruits, current law enforcement officers, corrections officers and SUNY Niagara's criminal justice students.

The building is located on the western end of the SUNY Niagara campus next to Lot 4. The project broke ground in July.

Funding for the new academy came from roughly $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding provided by Niagara County and an additional $2.27 million from the State University of New York. Niagara Falls contributed $250,000 to the project, after reallocating tribal revenue funds that had been previously earmarked for a now-canceled city preparedness center project.

County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh called the project money well spent.

"You're looking to provide the men and women who are going to keep us safe with every opportunity to get the most up-to-date training," Wydysh said. We don't take that lightly.

The Law Enforcement Academy was founded on the then Niagara County Community College campus in 1974. It moved to Niagara University from 2011 to 2021, before returning to the now-renamed SUNY Niagara campus with the announcement of the construction of the new academy building.


©2024 the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, N.Y.)
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