PARAMUS, NJ -- Early Monday morning, in the East Brook Middle School gym, the Paramus Police Department began its first ever Jr. Police Academy, which will last the entire week, and offer middle school students a unique learning experience.

A total of 40 rising 7th graders from East Brook and West Brook Middle Schools were accepted into the program last month, after applications opened in March.

"There was a lot of excitement from the new recruits when this program began. Everyone who was there was eager to learn and experience things that will help them grow and understand all the behind the scenes training that prepares our Police Officers and EMS Workers," said Mayor Richard LaBarbiera. 

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According to Paramus Police Detective Doug Ohlendorf, the architect of the program, this is something the department has wanted to do for nearly a decade.

When Detective Ohlendorf last approached Chief of Police Ehrenberg and Deputy Chief of Police Robert Guidetti in the fall of 2017, they made sure they could provide funding and man power to build a curriculum worthy of the youths they wanted to educate. According to Ohlendorf, once recruits were accepted in May, they had to agree to a Code of Conduct intended to keep kids in line, something their parents and teachers appreciated.

"This was not structured to be a type of boot camp for discipline. This was a program for kids who wanted to learn," said Detective Ohlendorf.

When he received clearance to construct the program, Detective Ohlendorf worked with statewide, county and federal agencies to arrange activities for the recruits that would expand their horizons.

The 40 recruits spent Wednesday morning with State Police and in the Paramus Life Safety training complex, before meeting with the Paramus Municipal Judge. Tomorrow, the entire group will go to Newark Airport Port Authority to meet with Fire Police before visiting the Bergen County Jail. Friday, they will participate in a scuba demonstration and swimming exercises at the Paramus pool, before watching a National Guard helicopter landing and heading to East Brook Middle School for a graduation ceremony.

"This program is a testament to all the important work our first responders do on a daily basis. Detective Ohlendorf and the Paramus PD have done a great job to make this new program a success and I hope this is a program that we can continue to develop and carry on for years to come," said Mayor LaBarbiera.

 "This would've never happened without the full support of Mayor and Council, and Chief Ehrenburg, everything I needed, they made possible," said Detective Ohlendorf. "And I couldn't ask for a better group of kids."