UNION, NJ – Members of the Union Police Department Explorers Program celebrated the graduation of three of their members and an end-of-year picnic/party on Tuesday at Rabkin Park.

Explorers in good standing graduate from the program once they reach 18 or finish their senior year in high school.  The three Explorer graduates are:  Izabella Ksiazek, Jessica Chamberlin, Kiara Watkins.

“I think Union has a strong bond with the community,” said program coordinator Lt. Thomas Florio.  "It starts with the youth.  We’re very proud to let them be in our lives, but more proud that they allow us to be in theirs.  We wish them nothing but success for anything they do in the future."

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The Explorers spent part of the morning cleaning up Rabkin Park and earning community service hours.  They participated in a question and answer session with Union’s newest police officers, who recently completed the academy and joined the force.  Lunch was provided, Explorers participated in an obstacle course and a CSI investigation, and fun was had with a water balloon fight against some officers.

I’m really excited and prepared for my career as an EMT after being in the Union Police Department’s Police Explorer Program,” said graduate Chamberlin, who is headed to Union County College, to attend their EMT/Paramedic Program.  “I loved the program, the lectures, and the trips were great.  I feel like I learned more about leadership from the program, and really encourage more teens to join the program.  My current plans and goals after graduating high school include to continue working, attend school, and be more active in my church.”

“I’m proud of this great program,” said Deputy Police Director Rick Landolfi.  “It’s an opportunity for the members to interact with police as positive role models, and it’s good for us to spend time with the youth of our community.”

“I want to become a doctor when I’m older, and I think the Explorer Program did a great job of teaching me how to be a leader in my community, and how to get involved in community events,” said Ksiazek.  “I had a great time in the explorer program, and I learned a lot about the police and my own community.  I appreciate all the knowledge and skills I’ve learned, and I will use them to pursue my career.”  Ksiazek will attend Rutgers University in the fall to study biology.

Watkins said she aspires for a career in investigations/forensics and joined the Explorer Program due to an interest in criminal and private investigations.  She will study criminal justice at Mount St. Mary’s University.