This past spring the Lyndhurst Police Department joined forces with the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department to form a program, the Advanced Leadership Initiative, designed to prepare students to set positive examples for their peers and help them prepare for the myriad of challenges that they are sure to face as they advance in life. The Advanced Leadership Initiative is a unique, cooperative effort between the Hasbrouck Heights and Lyndhurst Junior Police Academies designed to provide leadership, character education, and content-specific training to select members, who will then turnkey their knowledge and skills back to the community.
Eligible candidates from both towns were required to have successfully completed their townís respective junior police academy. Participants were then selected based on a rigorous application process that included an interview and letters of recommendation. When the process was complete, there were 11 students that were determined to be worthy of the challenge.
The program is designed to be an extension of the junior police academies, which are conducted during the summer. Advanced Leadership participants met every Thursday evening for two hours from April through their graduation on June 21. They addressed such topics as case studies, public speaking, and the characteristics of good leaders. They also portrayed the role of police officers in lifelike scenarios based on the instructorsí experience. In the final class, the students and instructors switched places, and the class members presented lessons on bullying, which they researched and developed.
ìIím proud of the fact that our police department continues to recognize the importance of building relationships with the youth of our community, especially at a time when some departments are cutting back or eliminating their community outreach programs weíre able to see ours expand,î said Mayor Robert Giangeruso.
Lyndhurst Police Chief James OíConnor, echoed Giangerusoís sentiments. ìWeíve been wanting to do something like this for a long time ñ to extend what the kids experience in their junior academies. Now with our first one completed and we see how the kids have grown, I can see a lot of potential for the future.î
While instructors from both towns have presented at each otherís summer junior police academies, this is the first joint program ñ but, it wonít be the last. Both OíConnor and Hasbrouck Heights Chief of Police Michael Colaneri hope to see the future Junior Police Academy graduates participate in this program.
ìNow that weíve given these kids the tools to take more of a leadership role, Iíd like to see them put their skills into practice ñ in school and in the community,î OíConnor said.
ìOur graduates are role models for the younger kids coming up,î Colaneri said. ìHopefully, this institute has prepared them to go out and set a positive example for their peers and made them more ready to handle the challenges they will face as they get older. I know it has given them a deeper appreciation of the challenges faced by law enforcement every day.î
The students were honored for their accomplishments with dinner and a graduation ceremony, which was held at Michaelís Riverside Restaurant, Lyndhurst.