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Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy (NCLEA) at SUNY Niagara

Answers to additional questions may be found at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services web site

What is the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy?

The Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy at SUNY Niagara is Niagara County’s DCJS approved training facility for law enforcement officers. The NCLEA currently only operates a full-time academy for sworn police officers and eligible pre-employment candidates.

The training is a partnership between the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Niagara Falls Police Department, and SUNY Niagara. The current police academy is designed for sworn officers who are already hired by departments with daily training and classroom instruction. Pre-employment candidates who pass the entry tests and background check are eligible to join sworn officers for Phase I of the academy.

The objectives of the NCLEA and SUNY Niagara are as follows:

  1. Offer the Niagara Country Law Enforcement Academy (NCLEA) that adheres to all Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) regulations to properly train Police and Sheriff officers.
  2. Partner with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and Niagara Falls Police Department to provide approved instruction for sworn recruits and pre-employment recruits.
  3. Generate educational opportunities to support SUNY Niagara and future Law Enforcement Academy operations.

What is the Pre-employment Police Basic Training Course?

“The Pre-Employment Police Basic Training Course provides students with the opportunity to complete many aspects of basic police training before being appointed as a police officer in New York State. Pre- employment training is achieved through a collaboration between a municipality and an accredited college, junior college, or two-year college having an active criminal justice, public safety program, or other similar or equivalent program registered and approved by the Department of Education.” (from DCJS web site

The Pre-Employment program is designed for civilians who are interested in entering the law enforcement field as police officers in New York State. Although Pre-employment recruits are not sworn officers, all recruits will be in the same class and must meet the same standards for physical fitness, attendance, and academics. Completion of the Pre-employment program does NOT guarantee employment at any law enforcement agency.

Upon successful completion of the Pre-Employment program, graduates receive a transcript and certificate indicating completion of Phase I of the Pre-Employment Police Basic Training. The certificate gives students two (2) years to secure employment in a police department and complete the Phase II portion of the training before being awarded a full Basic School Certificate from DCJS. Graduates also receive 30 credit hours from SUNY Niagara.

Who can attend NCLEA?

In the State of New York, police officers are appointed and attend the Basic Course for Police Officers at a regional academy. A typical course consists of a mix of police officers from a variety of police departments and sheriff’s offices in that region of the state.

The NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) approves all programs in law enforcement training for police officers. NCLEA at SUNY Niagara operates a full-time academy (Phase I and Phase II) and pre-employment academy (Phase I only).

What are Phase I and Phase II?

Phase I is completed by both sworn officers and Pre-employment recruits. This includes the majority of the content for the Basic Course for Police, including classroom instruction, physical training, and defensive tactics. All students receive the same training and are held to the same academic and physical standards for Phase I.

Phase II is only completed by sworn officers. This phase includes firearms training and on the job Field Training with the officer’s department. If a Pre-employment recruit is hired by a law enforcement agency, they would complete Phase II at that time.

When are the academies held and what is the schedule?

We run 2 academies per year. The spring academy starts in February or March. The fall academy starts in August or September. Each academy is approximately 6 months (24 weeks) long.

Academy class schedule:

  • Monday through Friday, from 7:30 to 4:30
  • Some variation in times may occur
  • No class will be held on major holidays


  • Consistent attendance is required for the successful completion of this academy. Unexcused absences may be cause for dismissal from the program.
  • Excused absences will be limited and reviewed by the co-directors in a case-by-case basis.
  • Pre-employment candidates: If you are unable to commit to the rigorous schedule and physical demands of the program, you will not pass.


How much does the academy cost?

  • The fee for candidates of the 2023 Pre-employment academy will be approximately $6,000. Accepted candidates are also responsibly for fingerprinting, uniform, gym attire, running shoes, and textbooks. The additional cost for these is approximately $200.

What are the requirements for entry to the academy?

Not all applicants will be accepted into the program. Please review these standards before application.

All applicants must:

  • Have a valid Driver’s License
  • High School Graduate or Equivalent
  • Successfully pass a background check
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Be able to pass a physical agility test (details below)
  • Be a US Citizen

Who are the instructors at the NCLEA?

All instruction is conducted by approved DCJS instructors and experts in law enforcement topics. Specialists in specific areas may also provide additional instruction only when approved by the NCLEA co-directors and DCJS.

Where is the NCLEA located at SUNY Niagara?

  • Classroom instruction: G218
  • Co-director offices: G223-227
  • Gym facilities (PT and DT locations): H building
  • Additional off-site locations: Not all training will be conducted on the campus of Courses such as Firearms Training, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) and others will be held off campus and coordinated by the co-directors. Each student is responsible for their own transportation.

What if I am a veteran, serving in the military, or am eligible to receive family military benefits?

  • If you plan on using any benefits associated with the military for your tuition you must contact:

Mr. Joe Potalivo
Veteran Services/Success Coach, SUNY Niagara

After completing the Pre-employment academy, what will I have?

  • After successful completion of the Pre-Employment program, each student will receive a transcript and certificate indicating that he or she has completed Phase I of the Police Pre-Employment Basic Training. This certificate will be good for two (2) years from the date of the certificate.It is up to each student to secure employment in a police department and complete the Phase II portion of the training before being awarded a full Basic School Certificate from DCJS. Those allowing their certificate to lapse will be required to attend some amount of refresher courses in order to be re-validated for another two years.In addition to the Phase I certification, Pre-employment graduates also receive 30 credit hours from SUNY Niagara.

If I have experience, do I have to complete the entire Pre-employment program?

Yes. There are no exceptions for transfer or life experience to receive the Phase I certification.


If I successfully complete this course, am I guaranteed employment as a police officer?

No. Successful completion of the course is not a guarantee of employment as a police officer. Training, including pre-employment training, is just one step in the process. Before being appointed as a police officer, a person must meet various New York State Civil Service Law requirements and appointing agency hiring standards, including minimum and maximum age and residency requirements.

Additionally, candidates must take and pass a written civil service examination, a physical fitness examination, and a medical examination that may include drug screening. Further, before being appointed as a police officer, a person may be required to submit to a psychological examination and a background investigation. A person with a criminal history or with a felony conviction may be disqualified from employment.

Can I use this training to become a police officer in a different state?

“The decision to accept basic training completed in other states to satisfy basic police training requirements is made pursuant to the rules established by the state where a person is seeking appointment as a police officer, and the law enforcement agency considering that candidate.” (from DCJS web site

Is a police department or sheriff’s office required to use this (pre-employment) training?

“No. Pre-employment training is an alternative to the conventional basic police training model in New York State. Law enforcement administrators decide what method of basic training best suites their individual needs.” (from DCJS web site

After a student completes this (pre-employment) course and is appointed as a police officer, what further training is required?

After being appointed by a law enforcement agency, a sworn officer who has completed the Pre-Employment Police Basic Training Course must complete the post appointment component of the training (Phase II), which includes at a minimum law enforcement skills and supervised field training. Law enforcement agencies and academies may add topics and increase the length of post appointment training to meet their individual needs. This must be completed within two years of graduation from Phase I. If employment is not obtained within that timeframe, the recruit must take the pre-employment refresher course.

What are the age requirements for this program?

Candidates must be at least 19 years old. There is no maximum age requirements for students.

However, please note that according to section 58 of the Civil Service Law, a candidate seeking permanent appointment to a police officer title must be at least twenty (20) years of age as of the date of appointment and not more than thirty-five (35) years of age on the date of the written examination.

What are the physical fitness requirements?

  • To be accepted into the academy, applicants must pass the physical fitness test at the 40th percentile of the Cooper Standard (listed below).
  • To pass the academy, candidates must pass the physical fitness test at a more difficult standard.

Applicants who attempt this test without prior training have a very low chance of passing this test. Start training as soon as possible.


  • Sit-up:  Muscular endurance (core body) – the score indicated below is the number of bent-leg sit-ups performed in one minute.
  • Push-up:  Muscular endurance (upper body) – the score below is the number of full-body repetitions that a candidate must complete without breaks.
  • 1.5-Mile Run:  Cardiovascular capacity – the (time) score indicated below is calculated in minutes and seconds.

 Note: Failure to pass any part of the test is considered failure to pass entire test. All portions of the test must be passed for entry.

 Entry Level Testing that Pre-Employment applicants must pass to be considered for acceptance.


40% Sit-Up Push-Up 1.5 Mile Run
Age             20 – 29 38 29 12:38
30 – 39 35 24 12:58
40 – 49 29 18 13:50
50 – 59 24 13 15:06
60+ 19 10 16:46
Age             20 – 29 32 15 14:50
30 – 39 25 11 15:43
40 – 49 20 9 16:31
50 – 59 14 N/A 18:18
60+ 6 N/A 20:16

Where can I get more information?

Contact the office of the NCLEA Co-Directors (see below).

Lieutenant Vosburgh/Detective Berti
Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy
DCJS:     DCJS web site