Long in the planning, a Brooklyn training facility for Court Officers was officially dedicated on Dec. 3 on the site of a former elementary school.
Named for three New York State Court Officers who were killed during the 9/11 World Trade Center rescue efforts, the academy, in Crown Heights, will serve as the primary training center for some 4,000 New York State Court Officers.
The roughly 60,000-square-foot facility was built on the site of the former St. Teresa de Avila School on St. Johns Place. The school buildings were fully renovated, with one four-story structure remodeled to hold five classrooms, a conference room, administrative offices and a locker room. The school’s auditorium and gym were converted into a two-story building with a lobby, large classroom, and multi-purpose gym and training area with a retractable wall and locker-room facilities. The two structures are connected by a bridge on the second floor.
Officially called the Captain William H. Thompson, Sergeant Thomas Jurgens and Sergeant Mitchel Wallace Court Officers Academy, the facility has new elevators, energy-efficient windows and heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and is equipped with teaching-oriented technology.
The facility’s layout was built to optimize the training experience, both for newly-recruited officers as well as for veteran officers who are refreshing their skills, according to a press release from the New York State Unified Court System.
The new facility replaces an obsolete one in lower Manhattan. A current Court Officer class is training in a small facility in Castleton-on-Hudson, near Albany.
State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who attended the facility’s inauguration, said the new buildings will provide state-of-the-art training for officers tasked to handle complex court assignments.
“We now have a customized facility that will enable our team of top-notch instructors to pursue and instill excellence in our Court Officers through a broad range of training activities,” she said in a statement.
She also expressed “collective pride” in dedicating the facility to the memories of the three officers. “I hope their family members will take comfort in knowing this wonderful new facility stands in honor of the ultimate sacrifice they made on 9/11,” Judge DiFiore said.
Court Officer trainees undergo four-month basic-training regimens that include instruction on criminal law, civil law, family law, constitutional law and arrest procedures, as well as weapons training, proper use of force, first aid, crowd control and other functions. Veteran officers retrain in active-shooter scenarios, special-response-team tactics, changing public-safety conditions and emerging threats.
At Long Last
The presidents of two unions representing Court Officers have long advocated for the new training facility, which they hope will serve as a conduit for an influx of Court Officers.
“While we believe this training facility should have been completed years ago, we are glad it is finally open so we can now begin to train the hundreds of new officers who are desperately needed to maintain optimal levels of security in our courts, which has been our mission from day one,” New York State Supreme Court Officers Association President Patrick Cullen and New York State Court Officers Association President Dennis Quirk said in a joint statement.
A first class of 225 trainees is expected to start at the academy no later than mid-February, and to graduate about the third week in June, a UCS spokesman said.
Academy administrators will look to build community partnerships to enable career service opportunities for local residents, the UCS’s release said.
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