The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy graduated its 64th class during a ceremony held May 10 at Niagara University’s Castellani Art Museum.
FBI Special Agent Jonathan Lacey was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Lacey, as the crisis manager and training coordinator for the FBI’s Buffalo division, is responsible for ensuring that the FBI is always ready to respond to crisis situations in the Buffalo division’s 17-county territory. The Williamsville native graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Lacey said that, as he drove to Niagara, he was filled with a sense of optimism for the future. He would go on to use the term “promise” to describe what he saw in the 14 men and women seated to his right.
“Today is a day for optimism because you are well prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead,” Lacey said. “Hold on to that knowledge, but with humility. It is a day for optimism, because what you have chosen to do – help others – is intrinsically good. Do it with compassion and courage. I know you will.”
Following Lacey’s remarks, NCLEA co-directors Lt. Aaron Shultz and Detective John Faso presented diplomas to this spring’s graduates:
- Joshua Belin, Pre-Employment
- Marissa Bonito, Pre-Employment
- Patricia Burdick, Pre-Employment
- Aaron Coney, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office
- Darren DeSantis, Niagara Falls Police Department
- Corey Hohl, Pre-Employment
- Benjamin Kaiser, Pre-Employment
- Shelby Law, Pre-Employment
- Justin O’Connor, Pre-Employment
- Tomarr Rexhepi, Pre-Employment
- Stephanie Riegle, Pre-Employment
- Nicholas Ross, Pre-Employment
- Wil Strehlow, Pre-Employment
- Justin Westmorland, Pre-Employment
Marissa Bonito, the academy class president, said that the graduates should maintain the mindset that has been instilled in them over the last few months: they will put themselves in harm’s way for nothing more than the gratification of serving others.
“We are the men and women who put focus on serving community, rather than self,” Bonito said. “If there was one thing we learned, it is that teamwork can get us through anything. United, we can take on the world.”
- Academic Award: Benjamin Kaiser
- Physical Fitness Award: Tomarr Rexhepi
- Sgt. Jeff Juron Defensive Tactics Award: Corey Hohl
- Jeffrey A. Incardona Memorial Award: Aaron Coney
- Joseph E. Steblein Memorial Award: Patricia Burdick
Niagara University is the only four-year, private college in New York to host a full-time police academy.
For more information about the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, please call 716.286.8759 or email ude.aragainnull@aelcn.