It was almost exactly seven years ago – Feb. 28, 2011 – that the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy commenced offering training at Niagara University.

Today, the police academy graduated its 67th class – its 16th at NU – during a ceremony held in the Castellani Art Museum.

Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. A graduate of SUNY Brockport and the University at Buffalo School of Law, Wojtaszek was elected as Niagara County’s district attorney in November 2016, making her the first woman elected to the position.

During her 20-minute speech Wednesday, Wojtaszek spoke about the importance of teamwork, integrity and reputation management.

“You will spend a career earning your reputation as honest and trustworthy,” she said. “No case is worth your integrity. Be nice to everyone. A badge is not a license to mistreat people. Treat people the right way on the way up because you’ll see them again on your way down – and they will help you get back up again.”

NCLEA co-directors Lt. Shawn Grapes and Detective John Faso presented diplomas to the following graduates:

  • Shawn Amann, Kenmore Police Department
  • Matthew Bailey , Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Wade Boyer, Lockport Police Department
  • Frank Burkhart , North Tonawanda Police Department
  • Justin Claps, Niagara Falls Police Department
  • Zachariah Fierle, Town of Tonawanda Police Department
  • Kevin Gruarin, Town of Niagara Police Department
  • Austin Heberlein, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
  • David Kelting, Town of Tonawanda Police Department
  • Richard Messmer, Medina Police Department
  • Andrew Mullen, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Elizabeth Taibi , Pre-Employment
  • Justin Tomaszewski, North Tonawanda Police Department
  • Derek VanDemortal, Town of Tonawanda Police Department
  • Christopher Wesolowski, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office

Award recipients:

  • Academic Award: Frank Burkhart
  • Physical Fitness Award: Justin Claps
  • Sgt. Jeff Juron Defensive Tactics Award: Wade Boyer
  • Top Gun Award: Wade Boyer
  • Jeffrey A. Incardona Memorial Award: Christopher Wesolowski
  • Joseph E. Steblein Memorial Award: Christopher Wesolowski

NCLEA Graduation | 02.21.18

Niagara University is 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.

For more information about the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy, please call 716.286.8759 or email

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