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SUNY Canton Law Enforcement Academy Adds Officer Wellness Training


The newest St. Lawrence County-David Sullivan Law Enforcement Academy class at SUNY Canton will receive training in officer wellness alongside their rigorous semester-long studies.

“Individuals who choose to become law officers are entering demanding and stressful careers,” noted Police Academy Director of Operations Joseph W. Brown. “We’ve integrated a wellness model to help the next generation of police develop the necessary skillsets to handle the stresses they’ll encounter in the field to help them maintain their physical and mental health.”

 City of Ogdensburg Patrolman Ryan Polniak demonstrates arrest techniques with cadet Joshua Belile during a class in the David Sullivan-St. Lawrence County Law Enforcement Academy.

Future Police: City of Ogdensburg Patrolman Ryan Polniak demonstrates arrest techniques with cadet Joshua Belile during a class in the David Sullivan-St. Lawrence County Law Enforcement Academy.

Brown said that the impact of making possible life-or-death decisions and the everyday rigors of modern law enforcement adds to the strain on police officers, resulting in staggering instances of mental health emergencies. The new training focuses on identifying work-related stressors and how to recognize and cope with them every day. It can also position police to be superior community advocates and benefit their personal relationships. “Maintaining a healthy mind and body is just as important as preparing against the dangers they will encounter in the field,” he said. 

The Officer Wellness training is a new curriculum implemented by the Department of Criminal Justice Services for this year. Other new courses include Bail Reform and Discovery Law. 

Approximately 60 active law enforcement professionals contribute to the intensive curriculum. Cadets are trained in opioid intervention during the first-responder section of the academy and receive body-worn camera training from police who have adopted the new technology.

The 2020 academy class began in early January with 16 new cadets representing the following agencies:

  • Camden Village Police Department
  • Lowville Village Police Department
  • Ogdensburg City Police Department
  • Potsdam Village Police Department
  • Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department
  • Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office
  • Norwood Police Department
  • SUNY Plattsburgh University Police
  • Tupper Lake Police Department

Cadets can also opt to enroll in pre-employment training, which often leads to career placement with area agencies. SUNY Canton students from the Criminal Justice programs can also enroll in the academy as the final semester of their education. 

The St. Lawrence County-David Sullivan Law Enforcement Academy is part of the college’s Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. SUNY Canton is also home to a new Corrections Academy, which helps students prepare for the growing field.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.