SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Police Department (SPPD) held its annual Junior Police Academy last week and, on Aug. 9, the 19 cadets who took part received certificates and accolades for successfully completing the weeklong program.

Open to borough students entering fifth and sixth grade in the fall, the South Plainfield Junior Police Academy (SPJPA) is sponsored by the South Plainfield Police Athletic League (PAL) and run by the police department’s juvenile division with the goal of fostering a positive relationship between the police department and the youth of South Plainfield. 

“The purpose of SPJPA is to bridge the gap between the police and the youth of South Plainfield. What we try to do is let [the cadets] experience a condensed, age-appropriate setting of what the police academy might be like,” said SPPD Detective Sergeant and SPJPA Superintendent Chris Colucci. 

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Over the course of the week, the cadets were taught defensive tactics from the state police, witnessed demonstrations from SPPD t officers and their K9 partners, and learned about DWIs and standardized field sobriety tests, as well as attended lectures and demonstrations and participated in various physical activities. The program also received support from the South Plainfield Fire Department and South Plainfield Rescue Squad as well as the State Police T.E.A.M.S. Unit. Additionally, this year, there were also helicopter landings courtesy of both the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City and Atlantic Air Ambulance (Atlantic Air One).

This year’s program was run by Colucci and SPPD School Resource Officers (SROs) Joe Indano, Justin Melanson, and Zach Melanson with assistance provided by SPJPA Junior Officers Aaron Everitt, Emily Luersen, and Megan Mehl. The2019 South Plainfield Junior Police Academy graduates are Grace Aiello, Jake Benowitz, Noah Charnecky, Robert Cintron, Ryder Coleman, Noah Dennis, GraceAnne Farrell, Julian Ferreira, Joshua Gould, Brayden Gregory, Courtney Gregory, Christopher Maldonado, Manuel Martinez, Jacky Tran Nguyen, Dylan Nicolay, Joseph Ronzo III, Michael Teal, Glenn Thimons, and Christian Toczynski. 

According to Police Chief James Parker, the SPJPA teaches discipline and helps the cadets learn about themselves and others. He reminded the participants to respect their parents, respect themselves, and respect their teachers and do well in school. “That is very, very important,” said Parker, adding, “I want to congratulate the cadets for graduating the junior police academy. Obviously, this couldn't be done without the Sergeant Colucci and the SROs. They take it very serious and are very passionate about it…” 

"I loved everything about the program," said GraceAnne Farrell, telling TAPinto South Plainfield that she especially liked using the drunk goggles and seeing the K9 dogs and thought it was 'cool' to see someone being brought to jail on the last morning of the program. 

Grace Aiello said the police officers were her favorite part of the program because they were 'fun and nice' and that she liked getting to pet the K9 dogs. "The program taught us to push hard to be the best you can be," said Grace. 

Colucci stated the SPJPA program would not be possible without the support of the department’s command staff, which includes Parker, Captain Daniel Noonan, and Lieutenant Wendell Born. He extended thanks to all police, fire, and emergency service personnel as well as borough representatives and special guests who assisted throughout the week. 

“Everyone who stepped up and helped out, we couldn't do it without them… and they deserve recognition,” Colucci said. “It takes teamwork to pull this off.”

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