The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduated its 63rd class during a ceremony held Wednesday at Niagara University’s Castellani Art Museum.
New York Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello, R-Niagara Falls, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
After turning the podium toward the graduates, Morinello offered wisdom ascertained from his experience as an attorney and 14-year tenure as a Niagara Falls City Court judge.
“During your career, you will encounter some who will lack respect for your chosen profession but, remember, they are not the majority,” he said. “They are just a small portion of the population. The general public knows better – and that is who you are here to serve.”
Morinello, who was elected to his first term in the state assembly in November, reminded the 17 men and women that they are being thrust into roles as stewards of the community, and that it is their duty to serve and protect.
“Always follow the rules of your oath. Respect yourself, respect your community, respect your faith. Come to work with a clear head. Leave personal distractions at home so you can assure yourself that you are going to come home,” he said.
Talon Zuchlewski, the class president, expressed his appreciation for the support of family, friends and academy instructors over the last six months. He said that he believes that the graduates have been adequately prepared for lives as public servants.
“Being pushed to our limits and told to never give up helped get us to our goal,” Zuchlewski said. “We learned to never stop fighting and to always come out a winner. With that mentality, we learned that there are no alternatives.”
The NCLEA was established at Niagara University in 2011, making NU the only four-year, private college in New York to host a full-time police academy.
Coordination of the program on Niagara’s campus is undertaken by the university’s Office of Continuing Education and criminal justice department.
Several Niagara University administrators were in attendance at the graduation ceremony, including Dr. Debra Colley, executive vice president, and Dr. Timothy Ireland, interim provost. In her closing remarks, Dr. Colley tied the noble responsibilities of law enforcement officers with the Catholic and Vincentian mission of Niagara University.
“Our mission (at Niagara University) is to serve those most in need – and that is what you will doing every single day,” she explained. “So whether it’s taking risks, whether it’s your unbelievable courage, whether you are the first one in or the last one out, this is what you will do. You will be living this mission each and every day.”
NCLEA co-directors Lt. Aaron Schultz and Detective John Faso presented diplomas to this semester’s graduates:
• Heather Cepuchowski, Lockport Police Department;
• Travis DeMuth, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office;
• Joseph Dobmeier, Town of Niagara Police Department;
• Dylan Dobrasz, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• Jenna Ferrando, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office;
• Jaimie Grozio-Krzyskoski, New York State Attorney General’s Office;
• Cassidy Longhini, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office;
• Marquis Lowery, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• Alexandra Mayes, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• John Montanaro, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• Charlene Rutkowski, pre-employment;
• Ian Sinclair, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• Joseph Slack, Niagara Falls Police Department;
• Thomas Venne, Lockport Police Department;
• Howard Wilson, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office;
• Mahmoud Zeidan, Town of Niagara Police Department;
• Talon Zuchlewski, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office;
Award recipients included:
• Academic Award: Zuchlewski;
• Physical Fitness Award: Longhini;
• Sgt. Jeff Juron Defensive Tactics Award: Zeidan;
• Top Gun Award: Zuchlewski;
• Jeffrey A. Incardona Memorial Award: Dobmeier and
• Joseph E. Steblein Memorial Award: Rutkowski.