Students in Steve Browning’s Security and Law Enforcement program at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center recently spent a day at the Niagara County Holding Center and the Communications Division of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.
Student Tyler Wisnieski says he had misconceptions on what the Holding Center would be like. “When you see shows on TV it looks much different. “It wasn’t as bad. The prisoners have a lot more rights than you would expect like watching television, playing basketball or just sitting down to have coffee.” His classmate Lindsay Falwell says she was surprised by that as well, but found the visitors center area unnerving. “They had areas that visitors would have to talk on a phone behind glass to the prisoner. Then there was another area that was basically a big triangle where people sit very near the other prisoners and their visitors. I found that intimidating. I would not want to be that close to another prisoner. I would be very uncomfortable visiting someone there.”
The class was allowed to tour the facility where they got a chance to talk to one of the prisoners, Ricky. “Ricky gave us all great life advice,” said Lindsay. “He has been in and out of prison for years and he told us his story and encouraged us to make better decisions than he did. That was very intense. One wrong turn and you are in jail for 30 years.”
The students found the tour very interesting and saw potential careers there. “I think it would be cool to do corrections,” says Tyler. Lindsay said although she didn’t want to be a corrections officer, she was fascinated by another aspect of the facility. “They had a medical center and I think I would like to pursue the medical field and potentially work there.”
Both students described the Communications Center as being a very stressful place to work. “There is a big television that shows the 911 calls coming through and you have 15 seconds to answer them,” explained Tyler. “There are two operators for fire and ambulance and three for the police. We actually got to listen to some of the calls that were coming in on an accident in Niagara Falls. I found it very intense. They have what they call a Quiet Room for the operators to go into if they are really stressed out from a call. I know I could never do that as a career.”
Lindsay and Tyler said they really enjoy the Security and Law Enforcement class and have gotten a lot out of it. “I really thought I wanted to be a cop, but now I am thinking something in the medical field or science,” says Lindsay. “But this class has opened up my mind to possibilities.” Tyler said he was inspired to take the class because of all the negative perceptions about law enforcement. “I think cops get a bad rap. I believe that being a good cop would have a positive effect on many and that is what I want to be.”