What can happen in a week in the summer? For most of us, Monday to Friday is a routine that is peppered with anecdotes about work and play. For most kids, a summer week is filled with play in one form or another. For 16 young Roselle Park residents, it was a significant step in the transformation from a boy or girl to a young man or a young woman.
Last Thursday, the first class of Roselle Park Police’s Youth Academy held its graduation ceremony at Borough Hall. Proud parents and family members expectantly awaited in council chambers and at 6 p.m. on the dot – as if to drive home the discipline instilled in them – the nine young men and seven young women marched into the room upon hearing instructions from one of their instructors, Roselle Park Police Sergeant Dominick Frino.
It was a culmination of an Academy week filled with PT (Physical Training) every morning, along with training from the Essex County Correctional Facility, the Union County Sheriff’s ID Unit, the Roselle Park Fire Department, the Roselle Park First Aid Squad, the Union County Police Department, HAZ-MAT Team, SWAT the Bomb Squad, and the Sheriff’s K-9 Unit as well as a visit to the John M. Stempler Police Academy, a visit from the New Jersey State Police Northstar Helicopter, and a run at the Police Academy obstacle course.
As the ceremony began, Roselle Park Police Department (RPPD) Chief Paul Morrison spoke of cadets Graves, Sepulveda, Weaver, Torres, MacDonough, Zhang, Urban, Badolato, Torres, Garcia, Yuza, Sabo, Cordero, Butler, Delarosa, and Patel and Academy instructors officer Joshua Medrano, Sgt. Dominick Frino, Sgt. Keith Wintermute, Detective Richard Cocca, and Patrolman James Kompany. He commended the cadets, “I’m very proud of what all of you have accomplished. May you take this experience along with you in life. I know they taught you to be courteous to others. I heard some parents say they’ve never been called ma’am and sir so much in their life. I as well as all the police officers in Roselle Park are very proud of all of you young men and women and what you’ve accomplished.”
During his presentation, Officer Medrano touched upon how personal the Academy was for both the cadets and the instructors. He praised the young men and women for walking out of their comfort zones and becoming pioneers from among Roselle Park’s Middle School populations. Without any prior knowledge of what to expect or how difficult the Academy would be, they signed up. He saw in the faces of the cadets that they were struggling at a crossroads where they needed to either progress forward or retreat and go back to their comfort zone.
“I was nearly certain I was going to lose a cadet after the first day. To my delight, all the cadets returned. Upon the completion of the second day, I was very confident each cadet would return with the exception of one cadet,” officer Medrano recounted about one cadet in particular, “That one cadet was struggling in his own mind. . . As multiple instructors encouraged this cadet to press forward, I watched this cadet battle a gauntlet of fear, anxiety, and discouragement within himself. It should be noted that all the cadets at some point and time experienced these feelings. However this cadet fought back tears and became one of the strongest cadets in the group. Tonight we are not giving out “A Most Improved” Award but I would like to recognize cadet Butler for his efforts.”
The young man stood up proudly to a round of applause. His story was, in part, all of the cadets’ story, working past their fears to get to a place of understanding. In closing, officer Medrano said of the cadets, “I’m most proud of how this group of young men and women have developed a stronger backbone. Without a doubt, they will be leaders in their classes and I expect them all to build off of this experience. My final message to these cadets is to be courageous, explore the world, fight through their hardships, and don’t limit yourself to what your mind may think you can do.”
The Roselle Park Police’s Youth Academy will be held every summer at a current fee of $20 per cadet. It is open not only to 7th and 8th graders in the Roselle Park Middle School but also those children who may live in the borough and are of similar age but attend school outside the district. Any parent interested can contact RPPD Officer Joshua Medrano at (908) 245-2300.