Nearly 20 youngsters take part in Essex Junior Police Academy

Junior Cadet Tyler Roman

Twelve-year-old Tyler Roman says his dream is to one day become a surveillance expert for a law enforcement agency.

“I like IT and detective work, so I’d love to work in police surveillance,” Tyler, who attends Newark’s Robert Treat Academy Charter School, said.

The morning of July 17, Tyler’s dream took a step closer to becoming a reality, as he joined 19 other youngsters for the start of the Public Safety Youth Academy, an annual summer program for Essex County children between the ages of 8-13.

The academy is sponsored by the Police and Fire divisions in Newark and East Orange, as well as the Newark Police Department’s Community/Clergy Affairs Unit, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Authorities from those agencies volunteer to work with the children, so the program is free of charge.

The Junior Cadets standing at attention.

The academy’s aim, organizers say, is to show children what it’s like to work as a police officer or a firefighter. Throughout the summer, they’ll also get a closeup view of the inner workings of the Sheriff’s and the Prosecutor’s offices and learn about various careers in public safety.

“It’s important for our youth to know how essential law enforcement is, how it works, and how it affects our communities,” Debra Smith-Gregory, president of the NAACP Newark branch, said. “Law enforcement offers our youth many interesting and novel career paths, so this academy is a really good idea.”

That same day, Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II welcomed the children at a kickoff class at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Building. Stephens introduced a Newark Municipal Court judge, who swore the children into the academy. Raising their right hands, the children vowed to work hard, pay attention and learn as much as they could.

The academy, which runs July 17 to Aug. 4, has an ambitious agenda.

The cadets will visit the Essex County Prosecutor’s Crime Scene Lab, where they’ll learn about fingerprinting, DNA and other evidence, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency, Rutgers University Police, and the Sheriff’s Office bomb squad unit.

There’s also a day-long trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. They’ll enjoy other outings such as seeing a movie, visiting the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange and swimming at a local pool.

Milagros Cuevas, Tyler’s mother, said she wanted him to use his summer fruitfully. She recently took a public safety class for adults, which she enjoyed, so wanted her son to have the a similar opportunity.

“I didn’t want him to sit at home playing video games,” Cuevas said. “I enjoyed the public safety class I took and wanted Tyler to have a similar opportunity to learn about law enforcement and public safety. And I hope the academy will have him achieve his dream — to become a computer expert in law enforcement.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.