MONTVILLE, NJ – Five Montville boys graduated from the Morris County Office of Emergency Management’s Youth Academy on August 7.

Alex Benno, Gregory Frieland, Joshua Lee, Samuel Rosensweig and Jaden Vnencak attended the week-long academy, held at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, and learned about police, fire and emergency medical service.

The Youth Academy, now in its third year, is designed to teach older students about the various fields in emergency services.

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“The Board of Chosen Freeholders sponsors the program and they have been very supportive of the Program,” stated Scott DiGiralomo, Director of the Department of Law and Public Safety and County Emergency Management Coordinator.  “Many towns run their own junior police academies. The County Program is designed to give a more global view of the Public Safety Community rather than focusing on just law enforcement.”

The Youth Academy was coordinated by Under Sheriff William Schievella and Jeffrey Paul, Director of the Office of Emergency Management. The 34 students had to apply and be accepted based on questionnaires and an essay. The week-long academy exposed the students to the Sheriff’s Office K9 unit; S.E.R.T, which is the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team; firefighter training classes and extinguishing a car fire with fire hoses; self defense classes; and crime scene investigation training.

Every morning began with a 30-minute session of public safety academy-style physical training, led by Sergeant Paul Carifi, who retired from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and now works part-time with the Public Safety Training Academy.  He is an assistant range master and is also in charge of the physical fitness training for all of the police recruits. “I hope to see many of you in recruit classes in the future, and you will be among the best recruits, because you will know what to expect,” stated Carifi at the graduation ceremony.

Sergeant Allan Griffin, who works for the Parsippany Police Department, gave his time all week to work with the cadets as their Drill Instructor and mentor, according to DiGiralomo. DiGiralomo’s son Christian is a volunteer with the Office of Emergency Management and spent the week with the cadets, coordinating the activities. He is in his last semester at Rutgers University.  Christian is an EMT and is a member of his local first aid squad.


Another unit the academy covered was a program intended to be utilized by individuals with little or no EMS training called Tramedic.  

“This is a pre-packaged medical kit with a decision tree,” stated Paul. “It’s designed to be an adjunct to AEDs (automated external defribillators). It can allow a high school kid to make a difference in somebody’s life. It’s a national program that’s moving into education, shopping malls and places of mass gathering.”

The academy provided students with a mannequin that is similar to a robot; it moans, speaks, and even “bleeds” beet juice. Academy cadets had to utilize the Tramedic kit to protect themselves with goggles and gloves, then administer first aid to the “victim” based on its complaints, such as pain, bleeding and feeling cold. The mannequin would also react to treatment administered; for example it would stop bleeding after a tourniquet was applied.

“It gets intense,” stated Paul. “At its basic level it’s still a high-pressure scenario. The kids may come home a little bloody, but the beet juice washes out.”

“We felt the students did an outstanding job performing basic life-saving measures during the live scenarios,” stated Scott DiGiralomo.


The academy cadets were also introduced to the academy’s law enforcement training simulator. Cadets entered a room and had a 300-degree view of a scenario which interacted with them, similar to an intense video game. Cadets were provided with simulated guns and pepper spray, and had a de-activated buzzer attached to their belt to simulate being shot. They then had to interact with the scenario and display the law enforcement techniques they had learned over the course of the week.

“The simulator puts the cadet into a police response, demands interaction with the situation, and an immediate response to a use-of-force situation. It creates a realistic police situation in which an officer’s decisions dictate the outcome of the scenario,” said cadet Alex Benno, who will be a junior in September.

Well-Rounded Academy

Jaden Vnencak  of Montville is interested in a career in law enforcement and stated, “The Youth Academy was like no other police academy I have attended.  It introduces you to many careers in public safety including police, fire and EMS.  No other academy can offer these programs, making it truly unique.” Vnencak will be a freshman in September.