WEST WINDSOR, N.J.—Mercer County dignitaries and law enforcement officials from around the County gathered today to celebrate the graduation of the fourth class of police officers from the Mercer Police Academy.
An audience of more than 100 family members, friends, and members of a number of law enforcement agencies witnessed the impressive class of 21 cadets as each received graduation certificates to officially make them police officers.
“In the short time that this academy has been in operation, we have turned many men and women into magnificent officers in different law enforcement divisions,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “I congratulate these 21 graduates for their commitment during their rigorous training. I have no doubt they are prepared for the challenges they will face.”
The commencement was held inside Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College Friday and featured the cadets proudly wearing the uniforms of the respective law enforcement agency each will join.
The graduates endured 22 weeks of training at the Academy in all aspects of law enforcement and will now serve in many different police departments within Mercer County and elsewhere (see complete list below). The cadets are the fourth police class of the Academy, which was created in January 2007 and provides a facility and resources to train law enforcement recruits within Mercer County. The Academy is located on the grounds of Mercer County Community College.
Among the speakers who addressed the class were Academy Director Al Paglione, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr., Mercer County Sheriff Kevin Larkin, Mercer County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Doris M. Galuchie, and Hightstown Borough Police Chief James Eufemia. County Freeholders Dan Benson and Ann Cannon represented the freeholder board at the ceremony and Dr. Donald Generals, Vice President of Academic Affairs for MCCC, represented the college.
“The class you see before you has persevered through five months of demanding physical and education training that have earned them the right to join the law enforcement community,” Paglione said. “There is no higher duty than service to our society.”
During training, the class studied in disciplines such as use of force, firearms, vehicle pursuit, hostage negotiation, advanced crime scene processing, and domestic violence prevention, among others.
Frederick Dumont, a graduate from Hamilton Township who is joining the Hamilton Police Department, was chosen by his fellow graduates as class speaker. He told his class members that despite the fact that the recruits ranged in age from 22 to 37 years old, they “formed a bond that I’m sure cannot be broken.”
“We picked each other up when we were down and pushed each other to get through this vigorous academy,” Dumont said.
Several cadets also received awards for their excellence in training. Michael Paglione of Ewing was chosen by his classmates for the merit award from the N.J. Police Training Commission as the best all-around graduate. Chris Van Ness of Hamilton earned the overall academic achievement award; academic excellence awards were earned by Raffaella Tozzi of Lebanon Township and Keith Rutherford of Hamilton; Kyle Brown of Plainsboro earned the physical training award; Kevin Hulse of Phillipsburg, N.J. earned the firearms training award; and Chris Van Ness earned the emergency vehicle operations award.
The Mercer Police Academy consists of two classrooms specially designed for the needs of law enforcement training and recruits use MCCC grounds, its library, and its gymnasium for training purposes. The campus includes a padded training room that is used for “defensive tactics” classes. A shooting range in Hopewell Township operated by the prosecutor’s office is part of the academy as well.
The creation of the academy saves taxpayer dollars by maintaining standardized training without relying on outside agencies. Training recruits within the County eliminates the cost of fees and transportation of recruits to other police academies. The sheriff’s office alone saves $34,800 annually, the cost of training 12 new recruits a year at the Burlington County Police Academy.
In addition, training for homeland security and counter-terrorism is now standardized among Mercer law enforcement, and the academy can host regional training on gangs, Breathalyzer testing, school resource officer training, fugitive apprehension, and K9 units—all subjects that had to be taught outside the County in the past.
Along with the County’s law enforcement agencies, the Mercer Office of Emergency Management, the N.J. State Police, the FBI, and the state Division of Criminal Justice are expected to utilize Mercer’s academy for training purposes. In the future, training for County park rangers will be offered at the academy, also a first for Mercer.
The Academy is open to both Mercer County and non-County residents, and many recruits utilize “alternate route” status, in which the recruit pays his or her own way for training.
The following is a list of the graduates, their hometowns (all from New Jersey), and the law enforcement agency each will join:
|David G. Bacsik (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|Kyle Brown (Plainsboro)||Alternate Route|
|Katherine M. Cox (Hamilton)||Alternate Route|
|Frederick C. Dumont (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|Michael Durand (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|John P. Fitzgerald (Old Bridge)||Alternate Route|
|Ian J. Hall (Hamilton)||Alternate Route|
|John J. Harvilla (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|Chad M. Hopkins (Robbinsville)||Alternate Route|
|Kevin I. Hulse (Phillipsburg)||Warren County Sheriff’s Office|
|Aaron J. Kulak (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|Daniel R. Latham (Hamilton)||Alternate Route|
|Stephen M. Lattin (Hamilton)||Alternate Route|
|Adrian W. Markowski (Hamilton)||Robbinsville Twp. Police Department|
|Brianne L. McCully (Englishtown)||Alternate Route|
|Thomas P. Paglione (Hamilton)||Robbinsville Twp. Police Department|
|Michael Paglione (Ewing)||Mercer County Sheriff’s Office|
|Keith D. Rutherford (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|
|Raffaella M. Tozzi (Lebanon Twp.)||Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office|
|Christopher E. Van Ness (Hamilton)||West Windsor Twp. Police Department|
|Thomas S. White Jr. (Hamilton)||Hamilton Twp. Police Department|