Allegany County-St. Bonaventure education partnership will aid in training jail corrections officers

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

St. Bonaventure University (SBU)_at Olean is partnering with the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office NY in what is being termed a “win-win” situation for both in helping provide trained correction officers for area jails.

A Pre-Employment Corrections Basic Training program this fall is providing 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 state Division of Criminal Justice Services approved the academy and its curriculum, which is open to both sworn corrections officers and SBU students, over the summer.

The agreement, which continues through June 2024, results in SBU being the only school in the region known to offer the program.

Program heads
Sgt. Craig Plaisted, a 23-year veteran of the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, will serve as the academy director.

Samantha Gavin, assistant professor of sociology and criminology at St. Bonaventure, spearheaded the effort to bring the academy to St. Bonaventure and will serve as the academy’s co-director.

She said the partnership is a “win-win for the university and the Sheriff’s Office,” saying it “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.”

Plaisted added that the effort is a “tremendous opportunity, not only for the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, but for all sheriff’s offices in the area,” noting that “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,” he said.

Class components
The academy started this month, with classes being held from 5PM to 9PM Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8AM to 4PM Saturdays. Graduation will be in mid-December.

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 St. Bonaventure students participating in the inaugural cohort of the academy are criminology majors taking Sociology Current Social Problems: Field Work Study.

The program does not guarantee SBU students a job upon completion, authorities said.

After 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 Craig.Plaisted@alleganyco.gov.

Students interested in participating in a future academy, including those not pursuing a criminology major, can contact Gavin at sgavin@sbu.edu.
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