Kearny hires 7 new cops with diverse backgrounds

Inset is Officer Casteneda. The rest of the officers are listed in the story in the order they appear in the photo.

Amid the chaos of the last Kearny Town Council meeting, one good thing, inarguably, happened.

Seven new police officers, including one who already has academy training — and three of whom are women — were hired by the governing body at a starting salary of $49,632 per year.

Six of the new officers will soon head to the academy while the aforementioned officer is already on the streets under the supervision of a field-training officer.

The new cops include:

Alyssa Matos, 23, of Kearny

Matos is a graduate of Bergen County Community College, where she got an associate degree and is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

She was social worker for Mental Health Association and a bartender/server at Chili’s restaurant.

The 23-year-old speaks Portuguese and is a volunteers at TSA’s dog-training program as a decoy, carrying training aides to be detected by canines at airports.

Susanna De Jesus, 34, of East Newark

De Jesus has three degrees from Rutgers: a bachelor’s degrees as a double major in criminal justice and public service and a master’s degree in public administration.

She was a seasonal ranger at the Passaic County Parks Department and a materials technician at Kessler Rehabilitation. She also trained as wilderness first responder in Oregon.

Alan Mejia, 23, of Kearny

Mejia is a graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, where he earned bachelor’s degree in information technology. Before become a police officer, he worked for UPS and is tri-lingual, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Andrew Mauricio, 21, of Kearny

Mauricio is a coach of football and wrestling at Kearny High School.  Before the academy, he worked for a photography company in New Yor City.  He also speaks Spanish.

Jamier Kerr, 23, of Belleville

Kerr worked as lead carpenter at Artistic Tile and at FedEx. Kerr volunteers with Family Resource Network in Bloomfield, working with special-needs children.

Juan Arenas De La Cruz, 29, of Newark

De La Cruz was a security supervisor at the NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark. He earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Essex Community College and speaks Spanish.

Estefania Castaneda, 33, of North Bergen

Castaneda, already on the job, was born in Chile and emigrated to the United States in her youth. She was an EMT for over 13 years in the Hudson County area and possesses EMT certifications that are still active. She completed the Essex County Corrections Academy and became a Hudson County Corrections Officer.

Then she completed the Bergen County Police Academy and became a Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer.

She doesn’t need to attend academy again since she is already certified as police officer and is bilingual English and Spanish.

“This is a wonderfully diverse class of new officers,” Mayor Carol Jean Doyle said. “We are very happy this group brings such varied backgrounds to the town and that so many speak more than one language. I am very pleased the new hires complete the town’s table of organization for the Kearny Police Department.”

Police Chief George King also expressed his delight with the new class — and the town’s support of his efforts.

“I’m very pleased with this group of new recruits and feel that will be a great addition to the department,” King said. “I’m also grateful to the mayor and council for their continued support of the police department and their commitment to public safety.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served 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 social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, 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 Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.