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Despite COVID, 36 court officers graduate from training academy

July 28, 2020 David Brand
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It seemed unlikely in March, but four months after the COVID crisis hit New York, three dozen new court officers are ready to get to work.

The Court Officers’ Training Academy moved coursework online and conducted the program remotely after closing the Brooklyn building in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As the state commenced a gradual reopening plan, officials separated the cohort of 211 recruits into six smaller squads that could each visit the building at different times. The first group of 36 performed the physical training component of the program last week.

Another group of 36 have already arrived at the new academy on St. John’s Place in Crown Heights and will complete their training Aug. 4, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said Monday.

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“We are ‘all in’ for this class, and we are committed to safely training and graduating successive squadrons of this group of trainees until the entire class can take its place alongside our veteran New York State Court Officers,” DiFiore said.

A court officer trainee completes the push up test.

Court officers, who have worked inside court buildings throughout the COVID crisis, “have done a magnificent job of serving and protecting the public and the members of our court family during these very difficult times,” she added.

Officials prioritized those 72 officers because they had finished firearm training before the COVID shutdown, Chief of Training Joseph Baccellieri said. Recruits get their temperature taken every day and are issued personal containers of hand sanitizer. Each day, the academy is sanitized, he said.

Two groups of nine recruits are also training at an indoor firing range in Woodhaven and at an outdoor range in Islip, Baccellieri said.

“Virtual training will never take the place of in-person training, but there were some parts of the curriculum that lend themselves to it,” he said. “But when you get to the nitty gritty, especially firearms and judgment, that has to be done in-person. The key was to do that while ensuring everybody’s safety.”

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