April 5, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Congratulates 20 New Graduates From the New York State Park Police Academy

Governor Hochul Congratulates 20 New Graduates From the New York State Park Police Academy

New Officers Help Protect Park System’s Record 84 Million Annual Visitors

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced 20 new graduates from the 18th Basic School of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Police Academy. After six months of intense training, these new officers will be assigned regionally to serve New York's 250 parks and state historic sites. Last year, those sites attracted a record 84 million visits.

“Today, we recognize 20 new officers who have stepped up to protect the people of New York,” Governor Hochul said. “The members of the New York State Park Police work every day to protect our State Park visitors, using their specialized training to respond to all types of situations. On behalf of all New Yorkers, congratulations and thank you to all graduates and their families.”

Graduation was held today at the Hall of Springs at Saratoga Spa State Park. For the past six months, the recruits were in residential training at the State Park Police Academy in Rensselaerville, Albany County.

New York State Parks Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “After going through rigorous training, we are proud to welcome these new graduates to our Park Police ranks. Their dedication will help keep a safe and welcoming environment for the millions of visitors who join us each year. As we celebrate our system’s Centennial, we want to let our patrons know of the support from Gov. Hochul, the legislature, and our law enforcement leadership that help keep parks and sites safe.”

State Parks Assistant Director of Park Police Col. Michael Daddona said, “Congratulations to this new class of park police officers. Your dedication and support from your families make this an extremely important day. I look forward to the next step in learning from our dedicated team at the New York State Park Police. Their training prepares them for a challenging and rewarding career – from law enforcement, investigations and extreme weather – on New York State’s forests, waterways and trails.”

Training for recruits consists of classroom education in Criminal Procedure Law, Penal Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, Park and Recreation Law, criminal investigations and a host of other police-related topics. In addition, the recruits received hands-on training in firearms, first response, snowmobile operation, ATV operation, emergency vehicle operation and a wide variety of other law enforcement related topics. The new officers will begin a 10-week field training program April 8, where they will receive supervised training from senior officers, followed by assignment to patrol responsibilities.

The following graduates received special recognition awards:

  • Officer Ryan Lee of Massapequa, NY, Leadership Award
  • Officer Benedict Reitzel of Bay Shore, NY, Academic Achievement Award
  • Officer Benedict Reitzel of Bay Shore, NY, Physical Fitness Award
  • Officer Bailey Faldetta of Lagrangeville, NY, Firearms Proficiency Award

Names, hometowns and regional assignments of the graduates are listed below:

Name (Hometown) Post Field Training Assignment District / Zone
Officer John O’Connor (Plainview)Western/Niagara
Officer Nicolas Pacanowski (Lancaster)Western/Niagara
Officer William Girzone (East Amherst)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Keith Swartz (Fillmore)Western/Allegany
Officer Tyler Erickson (Hamburg)Western/Allegany
Officer Jarod Ruffle (Rochester) Mid-State/Finger Lakes
Officer Lawrence Kroon (Van Hornesville)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Lauren Keenan (Glens Falls)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Kyle Ogden (Queensbury)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Kyle Foss (Monticello)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Johan Worum (Tomkins Cove)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Dimitirios Christodoulou (Mohegan Lake)Hudson Valley/Palisades
Officer Bailey Faldetta (Lagrangeville)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Racquel Casano (Garden City South)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Brian Durcan (Nesconset)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Ryan Lee (Massapequa)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Brandon Musallam (West Hempstead)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Michael Olsen (Patchogue)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Michael Simmons (Merrick)Hudson Valley/New York City
Officer Benedict Reitzel (Bay Shore)Hudson Valley/Palisades

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit  parks.ny.gov, download the free  NY State Parks Explorer app  or call 518.474.0456. Join us in celebrating our Centennial throughout 2024, and connect with us on  Facebook,  Instagram,  X (formerly Twitter) and the  OPRHP Blog.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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