NEWARK, NJ - The city’s 144 new police recruits sat with stoic faces today as Mayor Ras Baraka offered up a few words of advice before sending them off to training.
“Trying to reduce crime, while also being scrutinized by the very people you're trying to protect at the same time - it's a difficult job to have,” Baraka said during sending-off ceremony at the St. James AME Church. He later added the police officers are needed not just to make arrests, but to be role models in communities.
There are currently 1,082 uniformed officers in Newark, according to city officials. This class consists of 109 men and 35 women, with 46 African-Americans, 63 Hispanics and 35 Caucasians.
“It's a challenge,” said Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. “Not only the 26 weeks at the New Jersey State Police Academy, but the rest of your career. You're going to hit challenges. It is a challenge. But more important, you need to have personal courage, perseverance to make sure you're going to do your job. ”
The city is sending the recruits to the New Jersey State Police Academy in Sea Girt, a borough in Monmouth County. Should they complete the academy, they’ll join the the rest of the uniformed officers currently working in Newark.
Essex County College Public Safety Academy Director Rocco Miscia said the city has sent recruits to its Cedar Grove location in the past, but is too close to its capacity to accept a new class.
The New Jersey Police Training Commission recently limited the academy to its current class of recruits after the college cut the associate director position from the training grounds. The academy is currently having a commanding officer perform some of that administrator’s duties now, Miscia said.
“The police commission has limited us to the current police class, which began July 13 and gets out mid-December,” Miscia said. “So we’re in business. We have a class in session right now and that’s our status."
The college’s academy is also due for its three-year recertification next year, Miscia explained.
Meanwhile, the city is working towards building its own police and fire training complex at the site of the former William H. Brown Academy in the South Ward.
The project will train over 1,700 police and fire personnel each year and will focus on Newark-specific needs. Officials at the project’s unveiling said the city will save money by doing training in-house.