SPARTA, NJ – There was a lot of police activity at the Sparta Middle School this week, as the Sparta Police Department held their annual Junior Police Academy. On Wednesday, the 66 participants got to see the New Jersey State Police bomb squad robots, Atlantic Health helicopter, New Jersey State Police marine unit boat. That was just the first day.
In addition to the big equipment brought to the field behind the school, the participants had obstacle course circuit, air soft target shooting instruction and self-defense training.
Eric Basek brought trainers from Blue Titan to help with the self-defense unit. Basek uses expertise from serving as a police officer in Washington D.C and as a dispatcher for Sparta Police Department to teach some basics to the participants. After warming up they paired off to spar and learn various techniques for “when running away is not an option. “
The junior police ranged in age from fifth through eighth grade. They were put into one of six squads. Each squad had a Spartan warrior mascot. Their photo identification cards with also had a warrior on the back.
"It is not all physical," Sparta Lt. John Lamon, coordinator of the Junior Police Academy said, "We have something for everyone."
Thursday and Friday the students will be visited by the New Jersey State Police Northstar helicopter, the Center for Prevention, K-9 unit, the Sparta Fire Department, as well as instructional training units on eye witnessing and fingerprinting.
The cafeteria at the school was decorated with a police theme including a mock jail cell.
Using “funds left over from last year, they also got a water bottle, draw string bag and binder” with information from the week’s activities. Steve Scro, owner of the Mohawk House donated t-shirts for each of the junior police and will be hosting the closing ceremonies on Friday according to Sparta Lt. John Lamon, coordinator of the Junior Police Academy.
“Steve was very generous,” Lamon said. Lamon said the participants will receive a certificate of participation at the closing ceremonies. Sen. Steve Oroho is also anticipated to attend to give out certificates and medals. Other expected guests include “the township manager and council members,” according to Lamon.
Lamon hinted at additional prizes as well.
When asked what was their favorite activity so far, a group of participants looked puzzled at the question. Nearly in unison, they said, “All of it.”