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44 Graduate 10th Junior Police Academy

The Hasbrouck Heights junior police program celebrated a milestone on June 30, 2009, with the graduation of its 10th Junior Police Academy recruit class.

The 1st Junior Police Academy was held in August of 2000 and it graduated 18 recruits; this year, there were 44 students who completed the program.

The academy is part of the Junior Police Auxiliary, a program that is run cooperatively by the police department and school system. The auxiliary consists of three components: a criminal justice class given to Eighth Graders, the junior academy, and membership in the Junior Police Auxiliary.

The members of Recruit Class 10 enjoyed an action-packed week of hands-on activities that mirror the real-life training given to police recruits.

After spending their first morning learning procedures and participating in self-defense training provided by Olympic Karate Institute, the recruits went to the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah.

While there, they were given firsthand exposure to real police and fire training. They were also able to see the Bergen County Police SWAT team train for felony motor vehicle stops.

A firearms demonstration at the Heights police firing range and a visit from the Bergen County Bomb Squad kicked off the second day of the academy.

Over the next several days, the recruits learned how to conduct motor vehicle stops (with the instructors playing the role of the stopped drivers), run radar on Terrace Avenue, and arrest and handcuff a suspect.

They experienced the effects of Fatal Vision Goggles, which simulate the physical impairments that accompany intoxication.

Not only were the recruits required to perform simple dexterity tests while wearing the goggles, they also got to drive a golf cart while wearing them as well.

The Port Authority Police stationed at Teterboro Airport showed off their helicopter and fire apparatus to the class. The recruits were able to climb aboard the trucks and try out the equipment.

The Bergen County Police K-9 Unit came in and gave a demonstration. One of their dogs located a jar with a trace of explosive material planted by the officers.

While speaking at the graduation, Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri reflected on the growth of the program.

He recalled how he was warned by other departments that were running junior police academies that Hasbrouck Heights was probably too small a town to have a self-sustaining junior academy.

They advised him to combine with surrounding communities to ensure the program’s success.

The Chief then told the audience how the program has not only survived, but is being used as a model by other police departments looking to start their own junior academies.

The statistics are impressive. Since its inception, nearly 400 students have graduated from the academy and just over 1,000 students have taken the criminal justice class at the middle school.

Considering that the junior police academy is only open to eighth-going-into-ninth graders, over the years approximately 40 percent of eligible students have completed the program.

Additionally, the Junior Police Auxiliary is unique compared to other junior police programs because of the full partnership with the schools and the continued involvement of the graduates throughout high school.

It has earned the New Jersey School Boards School Leader Award and has been featured in NJ COPS magazine and on the NJEA-sponsored television program Classroom Close-Up, NJ.

What makes the Chief and everyone associated with the junior police the most proud, however, is that Joe Armeli, who was a member of the 3rd Junior Police Academy class, is now an officer with the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department.

The graduation also featured comments from Mayor Rose Marie Heck, who commended the recruits on their hard work and dedication.

A special presentation was made to FBI Special Agent Robert Bukowski, who is the only outside presenter who has participated in all 10 junior academy classes.

When the graduation ceremony was over, many of the former recruits were expressing their eagerness to continue their involvement with the Junior Police Auxiliary as it begins its second decade of service. Story by Mike Stillman. ###

2009 The Gazette Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.

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