East Newark youngsters wondering what it’s like to be the person in blue behind the badge will soon have a chance to find out, up close and personal.
That’s because this summer, the borough will be hosting its first-ever Junior Police Academy, from July 25 through July 29.
Open to kids ages 10 to 12 who live in East Newark, the program — according to a Police Department announcement posted on the borough web site — “will cover a multitude of topics including police morals and ethics, motor vehicle law, crime scene and evidence processing, K-9, SWAT and more.”
The borough is hoping to accommodate up to 30 kids for the week-long program, according to Police Chief Anthony Monteiro.
A number of neighboring municipal police departments in the region have been running similar programs for years and they’ve proven to be popular with kids. East Newark is hoping it can replicate that experience with its own version.
Borough Police Officer Billy Erezuma, a 15-year veteran who runs the ENPD’s Community Policing Unit, said the academy “is a chance to give our kids a first-hand look into the careers of law enforcement officers as well as strengthen our community relationships with our youth.”
Applications are available for pickup at the East Newark Police Department at Borough Hall or forms may be downloaded from boroughofeastnewark.com on the borough website. For more information, parents or guardians are invited to email email@example.com. Parental or guardian consent is required for attendance.
Early on in the planning stages, the chief said the thinking was to pair up with Harrison PD to offer a dual-Academy “but then COVID hit and that killed that idea.”
Monteiro said the program “is actually something we’ve talked about doing for years but we wanted to make sure we did our due diligence to teach our kids the right way, with the right curriculum, to inspire them for the future, possibly for a career in law enforcement.”
To that end, Monteiro said the ENPD has lined up professionals from various public safety agencies such as the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and its canine unit, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the N.J. State Police, for example, to expose kids to different areas of the criminal justice system.
Local officers will also participate, he said.
Monteiro credited Kearny Police Officer Jack Grimm, assigned to the Community Oriented Policing (COP) unit and long-time coordinator of the KPD JPA, along with juvenile officers who work with a South Jersey police department, for their guidance in helping strategize for the Academy.
Indoor classes and outdoor activities will be scheduled at various locations in and around the borough, the chief said. Among the likely settings for instructional sessions are the municipal court chambers at Borough Hall and the municipal recreation center on Central Avenue, while Veterans’ Field in East Newark and West Hudson Park on the Harrison/Kearny border may be used for modified physical training opportunities, weather permitting, he added.
The Academy will operate daily, the last week in July, Monday through Saturday, starting each day at 8 a.m. and running through 2 or 3 p.m., Monteiro said. Water and refreshments will be provided, he said.
Erezuma, who will serve as the program’s point man, added: “To ensure that (the participants) will have a full experience inclusive of uniforms, meals, transportation and field trips, we are depending on the generosity of our local businesses and friends.” Sponsorship opportunities of $1,000 (gold), $500 (silver) and $250 (bronze) are requested, with checks made payable to Borough of East Newark, 34 Sherman Ave., East Newark, N.J. 07029.
Any additional sponsorship support will be applied to the borough’s observance of National Night Out on Aug. 2 at Veterans’ Field in East Newark.
The ENPD has been promoting the Academy on social media and by “word of mouth,” the chief said. “We also sent out a flier to the Borough School and we gave out applications at the carnival hosted recently by the borough.”
Asked to assess the Academy’s prospects, Monteiro replied: “We will succeed.”
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Ron Leir | For The Observer
Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.
He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.
He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York