TOMS RIVER –
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, presented badges to New Jersey’s newest state troopers during graduation ceremonies at Pine Belt Arena last Friday morning.
The 154th New Jersey State Police class graduated 149 troopers, including six from Observer communities. The locals are: Andre Almeida and Eric Chaves of North Arlington, Christopher Perez of Belleville, James Calero and Bryan Haczyk of Nutley and Allen Cheng of Bloomfield.
The class completed 24 weeks of strenuous physical and academic training consisting of exhaustive classroom and practical training scenarios.
The recruits participated in extensive training and roleplaying exercises focused on motor vehicle stops, domestic violence situations, human dignity, and cultural diversity.
Each applicant applying to the State Police is required to have a bachelor’s degree, or alternatively, a minimum of 60 college credits, plus two years of work experience. The probationary troopers will be assigned to stations throughout the state, and over the next 11 weeks, the new troopers will begin their careers under the watchful eye of their Trooper-Coaches and supervisors.
“Today’s graduating class includes approximately one-third minority graduates, which continues a welcome diversity trend within the State Police ranks,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “Together with the 152nd and 153rd Classes, these new troopers represent another step in our continuing effort to develop and maintain a State Police force that reflects the diverse population it serves.”
“The State Police is not only recognized as one of the finest statewide law enforcement agencies in the nation and the most visible symbol of law enforcement throughout our state, but every individual who wears a trooper’s badge is recognized as a leader — on the road, in his or her neighborhood, and in the community at large,” said Hoffman. “That is why it is vital that those leaders not only receive exhaustive training, but also reflect the character and composition of our great state.”
Fuentes noted, “The intensive training that troopers received and the friendships they forged over the past 24 weeks will stay with them for their entire careers and beyond.
“The life of a New Jersey State Trooper is more challenging than ever, but in return they are rewarded by protecting and serving our communities. As these men and women proudly wear our uniform, they will be viewed as role models and leaders. Being a New Jersey State Trooper is more than a job; it’s a responsibility to lead by example.”
Also at the ceremony, Troopers Jason Serrano, Luis Cardenas, and Mohamed Hussein, each received the NJSP Citation of Meritorious Service for their extraordinary rescue of Lawrence Scherf on Aug. 19.
The troopers responded to a tractor-trailer crash on the N.J. Turnpike in Ridgefield. When they arrived, Scherf was severely injured and floating in Overpeck Creek located underneath that portion of the highway.
The officers worked together quickly and decisively, placing themselves in harm’s way, by getting into the water in full uniform and pulling Scherf to safety.