HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ --  The Hasbrouck Heights Junior Police Academy welcomed its 20th recruit class in June. The 24 eighth grade recruits spent one week under the direction of Detective Sergeant Alan Baker of the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department and Hasbrouck Heights Middle School Social Studies teacher/district coordinator Michael Stillman. along with the assistance of graduates from the program.

Instructors from the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department included Chief Michael Colaneri, Capt. Joseph Rinke, D/Lt. Michael Colaneri, Jr., D/Sgt. Alan Baker, D/Sgt. John Behr, and Det. Brad Dussault. 

Each day the class learned lessons from different law enforcement agencies. The SWAT team visited and demonstrated how they approach a vehicle stop. The recruits had guest lecturers from the Bergen County Sheriff’s K9 Unit, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella, and Bergen County Cybercrimes Unit.

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The class and instructors went to New York to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Freedom Tower on Thursday. On the final day, the class laid a wreath at the the Hasbrouck Heights Police Memorial on the Boulevard and Central Avenue. They learned about the police officer, Gerald Delamater, who died in the line of duty. 

Graduation was held at the Hasbrouck Heights VFW on June 29.   The recruits were led into the hall by Police Bagpiper Brian Bruton. In attendance were Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri, Captain Joseph Rinke, Detective Lieutenant Michael Colaneri, Jr., Mayor Jack DeLorenzo, Councilwoman Josephine Ciocia, Councilman Ron Kistner, and Councilman Christopher Hillmann, and Hasbrouck Heights Middle School principal Joseph Mastropietro and vice principal Frank D'Amico.

Company commander Meghan Stellhorn gave a speech recapping the week's events for the class, which was also reflected in the class video, which included physical training and team building exercises, CPR training, mock motor vehicle stops, and a visit to the shooting range. This year the students wore alcohol impairment goggles, or "drunk goggles," and drove a golf cart around a pre-set coned off course at Depken Field, to simulate the effect of alcohol on reactions while driving. Stellhorn noted their trip to the 9/11 Memorial where "so many people 's lives were changed forever" was "very emotional."

Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri Sr. also addressed the group. He explained when the police academy first began, officials from another town suggested Hasbrouck Heights wouldn't be successful because the town was too small and couldn't get enough kids.

"Here we are twenty years later, and Teaneck's program in long gone,"  said Colaneri. 

"We started this (the junior police academy), when the two towers were standing," observed Colaneri. "When you go back, it really makes you think."

Chief Colaneri also recognized the "great partnership" the police has with the Board of Education, and Mayor and Council, saying they "work together well." He also thanked the team of Junior Auxiliary helpers, high school students who came through the academy and return to assist the instructors, including Jessica Geigges, Marc Pagan, Jessly Gomez, Zac Cali, Nick Cali, Denise Boquiran, Aya Tahhan, Mandeep Kaur, Alessandro Ciminata. He also thanked Stillman, the school adviser, who works on the program year-round, 

Colaneri said the Mark Musella, who has a law firm in the borough, was "impressed by their questions." He also noted it "meant a lot when they placed a wreath at the police memorial" earlier in the day.

"We're hopeful, that maybe some of you are going to be be a police officer, and that's great," said Colaneri. "This is just a little taste of what we do."

Mayor Jack DeLorenzo, who was the Juvenile officer when the program began 20 years ago, also spoke.

"I am thankful the police continue to be part of the tradition," he said. "Any youth program, Chief is always behind it."

"Take what you learned this week with you and use it down the line," he told the recruits.

The recruits received their certificates of completion. There were additional awards. The Ironman Challenge Award for a squad went to Squad Three, of Jack Baker, Anthony Grasso, Hatidzhe Karahalil, and Usman Shahid. The Individual Ironman Challenge award went to Jenna O'Malley and Anthony Grasso. A new award, the Chief's Award of Excellence went to Hatidzhe Karahalil.

Hasbrouck Heights Junior Police Academy Recruit Class 20

Company Commander
Meghan Stellhorn

Executive Officer
Christian Melgar

Squad Leader—1
Jenna O’Malley

Joseph Bothe
Kyle Cappadona

Squad Leader—2
Anthony DiLascio

Chris Mendoza
Marisa Ackattupathil
Daniel Wixon

Squad Leader—3
Jack Baker

Anthony Grasso
Hatidzhe Karahalil
Usman Shahid

Squad Leader—4
Michael Canavatchel

Max Castro
Diana Saad

Squad Leader—5
Alexa Garcia

Shane Ike
Roman Eschert
Steven Herron

Squad Leader—6
Luke Jimenez

Anthony Peterson
Stephen Cue
Param Malik


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