BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Responsibility and respect for each other are a few of the lessons the cadets take away from the Berkeley Heights Police Youth Academy organized by the Berkeley Heights Police Department. The Academy sessions are held four consecutive weeks in July for Berkeley Heights students entering grades 2 through 12.
Ptrm. Jason Massimino has been instrumental in organizing the academy program said Lt. John DiPasquale. The growing program is in its third year. Massimino and Ptrm. William (T-Bone) Fettes brought their experience from helping with the Union County Police Youth Academy to Berkeley Heights said DiPasquale. They "personalized" the program's curriculum geared to educate and inform the cadets.
Massimino said the program was designed in part to add to the strength of relationships between the community and the Police Department. "Each cadet has the opportunity to talk one on one with the officers," said Ptrm. Ed Gaffney. It allows the Police Department to foster better relationships with kids in the community.
The program is regimented to a degree said Massimino, however, it was designed to be a positive atmosphere. "Unit cohesion and discipline are stressed, but not over killed."
The students each receive a Youth Academy uniform including a t-shirt embossed with the #17 Badge of Honor in the memory of the late Captain Stephen Stamler, who was a strong advocate to community outreach.
Each day of their training included many military drills along with physical activities led by the officers.
The structured program kept the cadets engaged. Contributing to the success of the program were demonstrations brought in by Union County SWAT Team, NJSP Aviation Unit, Union County Bomb Squad, and the Union County Sheriff K-9 Unit to name a few.
Video Credits: Ptrm. William Fettes
The sessions are divided into grades allowing an age appropriate curriculum. Because many cadets return, the last session is reserved for cadets who are in high school or have previously attended the academy.
Massimino further stated these cadets will have the opportunity to see advanced presentations from ballistics and gangs and narcotics.
The week sessions culminate with a graduation ceremony for family that included a video of the week's activities and each cadet receives a medal.
DiPasquale commended the Berkeley Heights Fire Department for their hospitality and accommodation for the camp to be run out of their facility.
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