St. Bonaventure partners with Allegany County Sheriff’s Office to host Corrections Academy

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Sgt. Craig Plaisted, Undersheriff Scott Cicirello, Sheriff Rick Whitney and Lt. Kevin Morsman — all from the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office — SBU President Dr. Jeff Gingerich, Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Keller, criminology faculty Dr. Andrew Dombek and Dr. Samantha Gavin, and Dr. David Hilmey, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y., Sept. 22, 2022 — St. Bonaventure University is partnering with the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office to host a Pre-Employment Corrections Basic Training program this fall.

This is the first of a two-phase program that leads to obtaining a certificate of completion for a course equivalent to the Basic Course for Correction Officers. The course is open to both sworn corrections officers and SBU students.

New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services approved the academy and its curriculum earlier this summer. The agreement was approved through June 2024. SBU is the only school in the region known to offer the program.

Dr. Samantha Gavin, assistant professor of sociology and criminology at St. Bonaventure, spearheaded the effort to bring the academy to St. Bonaventure. She will serve as the academy’s co-director. Sgt. Craig Plaisted, a 23-year veteran of the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, will serve as the academy director.

The partnership is a win-win for the university and the Sheriff’s Office, Gavin said.

“The program allows newly hired corrections officers the opportunity to fulfill their training requirements and our students the chance to satisfy their internship requirements without leaving campus,” Gavin said.

The program is a “tremendous opportunity, not only for the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, but for all sheriff’s offices in the area,” said Plaisted. “Most applicants have no prior training, and it can take up to a year for them to complete the academy once they are hired. Having the Phase 1 academy completed allows us to hire employees who will require a minimal amount of in-house training to begin working.”

The academy began Sept. 6 with classes Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Graduation will be in mid-December.

Lecture classes are taught in Plassmann Hall and classes involving physical training are taught in the Richter Center. The courses include various law classes, defensive tactics, report writing, interpersonal communication skills, physical fitness, various procedures required of a correction officer, and more. Firearms and police baton courses are not included in the pre-employment course since recruits must be hired by a correction agency prior to receiving these courses of instruction.

Most of the Bonaventure students participating in the inaugural cohort of the academy are criminology majors taking SOC 301 (Sociology Current Social Problems: Field Work Study).

“The added benefit for our students is that it gives them baseline corrections training that could be attractive to prospective employers if the students seek other criminal justice-related jobs when they graduate,” Gavin said.

The program does not guarantee SBU students a job upon completion. Upon successful completion of the Phase 1 Pre-Employment Correction Basic Training, students will have two years to be hired and complete the Phase 2 portion. They would then receive a Corrections Officer Basic Training Equivalency Certificate.

Correctional facilities who are interested in sending sworn officers to a future academy can contact Plaisted at [email protected].

Students interested in participating in a future academy, including those not pursuing a criminology major, can contact Gavin at [email protected].

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