FREEHOLD, NJ — After five days of police academy-style training, four high school-age students from Belmar were among 110 graduates of Monmouth County’s 27th annual Sheriff Youth Week program.
Sophia Carpio, William Cruz, Richler Innocent and Kelly Schmidt received their certificates of completion during the program’s commencement ceremonies on July 12 at the Monmouth County Police Academy.
Held from July 8 through 12, Sheriff Youth Week offered students the unique opportunity to explore interests in law enforcement through hands-on training, exercise activities and instructional sessions.
“We are so proud of the entire Sheriff Youth Week class for staying the course and commend them for completing this intensive week of law enforcement training,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “The program provides the graduates with an opportunity to explore the realm of possibilities of a career in public safety. As a result, many will become our future leaders in law enforcement.”
During the program, the recruits embarked upon a rigorous schedule that combined training and classroom activities — beginning each day with a drill and ending with an exercise.
“The program has been very challenging, tough and fun and that’s why I enjoyed it. It has made me respect police officers and the hard work they put in to protecting the public,” said Belmar’s Richler Innocent, who also completed the program in 2017 and 2018, while it was the second time for Kelly Schmidt.
Program newcomers Sophia Carpio and William Cruz are recent eighth-grade graduates of Belmar Elementary School, who will be attending high school in the fall.
In learning about various law enforcement topics and agencies, all participants explored the workings of the Law Enforcement, Communications and Corrections divisions of the sheriff’s office and participated in mock drills with the Corrections Emergency Response Team and the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team.
They also spent an entire day at the county’s Situational Training And Response Simulator (STARS) facility, where they got an up-close look at the VirTra Simulator — a decision-making and tactical firearms virtual threat device that is equipped with five large screens and shows real-life types of scenarios.
In addition, demonstrations were given by the K-9 Unit, drone and dive teams, and representatives of the Project Lifesaver Program, which tracks people with Alzheimer’s disease and autism when they become missing.
Recruits also learned about motor vehicle stops, special operations and equipment, vaping and opioid awareness, internet safety and women in law enforcement. An entire regimen of health and fitness included a 5K run, and bicycle patrol training featured an interactive police bike course.
During the graduation, Golden and Freeholder Director Tom Arnone specially recognized Honorable Deputy Sheriff William Wingard of New Jersey Gravel & Sand in Wall, who has sponsored Sheriff Youth Week since 1992.
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