UNION COUNTY, NJ – Union's five newest police officers were among the thirty-nine graduates of the John H. Stamler Police Academy who took their oaths of honor on Tuesday in a ceremony celebrating the academy’s 122nd graduating class.

Michael T. Plaia, Danny Mirao, Nyanate F. Senyon, Juliana C. Hudson, and Mathew F. Melody were first sworn into office in Union in a ceremony at Town Hall on January 2.

During the academy graduation ceremony, several meritorious awards were presented to recruits for exemplary performance in training including several for the Union recruits:

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  • The John H. Stamler Police Academy Merit Award - presented to Officer Matthew F. Melody
  • The Charles Jotz Best Marksman Award - presented to Officer Danny Mirao,
  • The Officer Anthony J. Lordi Jr. Fallen Officers Memorial Award - presented to Officer Matthew F. Melody
  • The 200 Club of Union County Award - presented to Officer Michael Plaia

“Congratulations to all of the recruits,” said Union Police Director Dan Zieser.  “Interestingly,  graduate Danny Mirao joins his mother on the department, Detective Odette Mirao.   Our first mother/son members of the Union Police Department.”

“Not only did the 122nd graduating class persevere through a global pandemic to complete their training, but they now enter the law enforcement profession at time when law enforcement is under immense scrutiny,” said acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo. “We are so incredibly proud of this new class of officers who take to heart the knowledge that in every action they take and every reaction they have, they have the power to define what it means to be a police officer,” said Ruotolo.

As the first recruit class to graduate during a global pandemic, the 122nd class experienced an unprecedented twenty-three weeks at the academy. While classes began normally in January, as COVID-19’s threat to public health grew unavoidable, recruits began meeting virtually in March to continue their physical and academic training. The class returned to in-person instruction in June with measures in place to protect the health and safety of recruits and academy staff.

“The 122nd graduating class faced more challenges than other recruit classes that have successfully completed the academy,” said Academy Director Eric G. Mason. “We are proud of all our graduates and wish them the best as they pursue their law enforcement careers.”

In addition to newly appointed officers from Union, the graduating class includes officers from the Jersey City Police Department, the Plainfield Police Division, the Rahway Police Department, the Roselle Police Department, the Roselle Park Police Department, the Union County Police Department, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the Weehawken Police Department.

 “I am incredibly proud of the graduating class and their ability to adapt and overcome the challenge of attending the academy during a pandemic,” said Jonathan Parham, Director of County-Wide Police Policy, Planning, and Training for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

While recruits usually graduate from the academy in a large, formal ceremony, this year’s abridged and more informal commencement took place outside the Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains to ensure graduates and their limited number of guests had space to observe proper social distancing guidelines. In place of a keynote speaker, recruits were addressed by Academy Director Eric G. Mason, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, and Union County Police Department Chief Chris Debbie, President of the Union County Police Chiefs Association. Recruits and their families were joined by Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders Chairman Alexander Mirabella and Vice Chairman Angel G. Estrada, Sheriff Peter Corvelli, First Assistant Prosecutor Doreen Yanik, UCPO Chief of Detectives Patricia Gusmano, and chiefs and directors from across the county, who attended to show their support for this extraordinary class.

The John H. Stamler Police Academy has been in continuous operation since 1946. The academy partners with the Union County Police Chiefs Association, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and local agencies to provide instructors, resources, and support for each graduating class.