Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 21, 2012

New police recruits graduate and set their sights on hitting the streets

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — For Judith Dolan and Joel Smith it’s been a long 22 weeks.

But both were beaming on Friday afternoon as they graduated from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy and officially began their careers as Falls Police officers.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” Smith said, “that all the hard work paid off. I’m just ready to start my career.”

For Dolan the academy was especially challenging, after she broke her foot during the training. Off her crutches now, she said she was ready to get on the Cataract City streets.

“I’m excited and I’m proud,” Dolan said. “(Overcoming the challenge of the broken foot) makes this special. I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to make it.”

Smith and Dolan will be the last two officers to join the Falls force during the tenure of Superintendent John Chella. Chella, who is retiring at the end of the year, looked on proudly as he watched his last academy class graduate.

“I’m thinking, if I’ve done the numbers right, in my nine years as superintendent, we’ve hired 78 officers and that’s more than half of the department right now,” Chella said. “It’s a young department and that’s a good thing.”

Class president Daniel Barrancotta, the son of a Lockport Police lieutenant, said he believed he and the others who were graduating with him were drawn to a law enforcement career out of a desire to help people.

“People call the police when they are in desperate need of help, when they’ve exhausted all of their options and they don’t know what to do,” Barrancotta said. “This profession is unlike any other. We run to chaos when everyone else is running away. I wanted to help people.”

In his keynote address to the graduates, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York William Hochul Jr. said they will learn quickly that they now carry a title, officer, “that stands for the critical importance of their profession.”

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