PISCATAWAY, NJ -- After 12 weeks of hands-on training on how to conduct traffic stops, arrest suspects and investigate crime scenes, seventeen Piscataway residents successfully completed the police department's 18th Citizen Police Academy where they learned the roles and responsibilities of a local police officer.

"The Citizen Police Academy bridges the gap between the community and what officers are faced with in the field," said Captain Michael McLaughlin during their May 11th graduation ceremony at the Piscataway Police Department's headquarters.

"Class 18's graduates mark the 350th number of participants to have gone through the academy," said Lt. Frank Hackler, the facilitator of the nationally recognized program that teaches participants about the roles of a police officer and the types of threats they face while on duty in the field.

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Dwayne Wheeler, Class 18’s representative spoke about some of the experiences presented to the graduates during the workshops that began last February, mentioning how the program gave them new insights and appreciation for what the police have to do when working with the public, and why they make some of the decisions they do in their efforts to protect and serve.

"It was an awesome feeling to stand where the officers are standing," said Wheeler. "The entire program is an 'A-plus'. From the start of the first class, all of the materials given to us said that we (citizens) are important."

He described some of the training the class received, including evidence gathering techniques and recognizing the personal characteristics of a person, as well as understanding the rules and methods behind the use of force. The graduates even learned how to use speed detection devices and got to ride-along with officers as they patrolled the various neighborhoods of Piscataway.

"The program is an excellent outreach to the community," Wheeler added, saying he wished more residents could participate so they also could better understand the dangers the police face.

"Stay involved with your community," encouraged Scott Cartmell, the department’s Chief of Police.  

He asked them to use their new training to assist the police whenever necessary, such as with the annual Memorial Day Parade and National Night Out where large crowds make keeping law and order more challenging.

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