NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Fourteen North Plainfield students ages 13 and older, took part in the North Plainfield Police Department’s 2016 Police Youth Week program run out of West End Elementary School from July 11 through July 15. The weeklong program is designed to provide the teenage cadets an opportunity to gain a better understanding of law enforcement.

To meet this goal, Police Youth Week is run like an actual police academy – not as a ‘boot camp’ for troubled youth – with participants exposed to the training, procedures and technology utilized on a daily basis by uniformed police officers and other law enforcement officials and emergency personnel.

According to North Plainfield Police Detective Albert ‘Tito’ Domizi, who runs the program along with Detective Eric Fowler, the goal of Police Youth Week is to provide participants with a better understanding of law enforcement, including but not limited to what and how officers do things and what they went through in the academy.

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“Through the program, they see the whole aspect of law enforcement,” said Domizi, who also helps run the department’s investigation and community policing units along with the school district’s DARE and GREAT programs. “Everything from patrol through investigation is touched upon.”

Domizi added, “The program provides a better understanding and perspective into what we do and all the different aspect of the job. One minute, we can be chasing a robber or delivering a baby. We never know what the next day is going to bring.”

Throughout the week, special guests from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, FBI, New Jersey State Police and Somerset County SWAT along with the North Plainfield Fire Department came to speak and/or hold demonstrations. Highlights of the week also included visit a from a New Jersey State Fire Arson investigator who demonstration how his K9 ‘Torch’ sniffs out flammable liquids. An officer with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office also took part in the program demonstrating how K9 ‘Apex’ is used to sniffs out illegal drugs.

Additionally, the cadets also toured North Plainfield Police headquarters and got to try out high-tech fatal vision goggles and, regardless of the weather. They also started each day with rigorous physical training exercising as well as cadence and marching drills led by North Plainfield Police Detective Don Everett and Officer Jordan Rogers.

“A lot of these kids have never been pushed like this before. Many of them have never been told what to do like this,” Everett, an ex-Marine who also assisted with the program last year, said. “We are really pushing them and teaching them to take pride in themselves and to stand tall and proud.”

Police Youth Week, although tough mentally and physically, also features a positive environment designed to build a bond between North Plainfield police and young borough residents, something that is very important in today’s day and age.

“Through this program, they see the whole aspect of law enforcement and are interacting with police on a positive level, which is something that is really important right now. We want them to see us as mentors and as role models and helpers of the community,” said Rogers.

Rogers, who grew up in North Plainfield and joined the police department four months ago, added, “We didn't have this when I was growing up and I wish we did. Had I been exposed to this environment, I would have made the decision to become a police officer sooner.”

The North Plainfield Police Department is also hopeful that programs like Police Youth Week will inspire an interest and lead some of the participants to consider a career in police work. For Kim Vasquez, serving her community is something she already knows she wants to do.

At 17 years old, Vasquez, a student at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, was the oldest cadet to take part in this year’s program. Additionally, she was also the only one to have attended the Somerset County’s Police Youth Week program in 2015.

“I like this program because it is a smaller group and there is more focus on discipline. It is a really helpful and informative program,” Vasquez said, noting that she has known since elementary school that she wants to be a police officer one day.“I was in fourth grade an officer from Piscataway came in and spoke during career day. He told me all about and I knew it was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I love helping people and if I have a chance to become a cop in North Plainfield, that would be great.”

For 15-year-old Russell Malik, the weeklong program provided him with a great deal of information and a better idea of all the different aspects of being a police officer. While he admits the physical training part was hard, he said the civilian-police bond was actually really ‘cool.’

“I got to see and learn more about how and why police do things and it’s made me think about becoming a police officer even more,” Malik said. “Maybe one day I can be a detective.”

At the end of this year’s Police Youth Week, a special graduation ceremony took place. North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti and Captain Gerard Clyne attended and addressed the cadets. Additionally, all who completed the program received framed certificates.

“This is a great program and I look forward to doing it again next year,” said Det. Fowler. “I want to thank the department for supporting it and the youth of North Plainfield for supporting us by participating.”

James V. McLaughlin, Ed.D., superintendent of North Plainfield Schools, feels Youth Police Week is a ‘tremendous example of the commitment the North Plainfield community makes to the youth’ of the town.

“The care and concern of our police department for the path our students will take and the opportunities that are available to them, cannot be overstated in its value,” said McLaughlin. “North Plainfield's police department is extremely involved and proactive, providing education, mentorship, recreational opportunities, and providing positive examples to students that assist them well beyond their years in school. Our school district is fortunate to have such an outstanding partner and we look forward to both maintaining and building upon that relationship in the years ahead.”

For more information on Police Youth Week, contact North Plainfield Police Detective Albert Domizi at (908) 769-2971/adomizi@npmail.org.

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