MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

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 corrections officers from the Mercer Police Academy.

An audience of dozens of family members, friends, and members of a number of law enforcement agencies witnessed the impressive class of 18 cadets as each received graduation certificates to officially make them corrections officers.

“I congratulate these young men and women for working hard to accomplish their goals and fulfill their dreams by graduating from this academy,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “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 Mercer County Department of Corrections, which all the graduates will join.

The graduates endured 10 weeks of training at the Academy in all aspects of law enforcement. The cadets are the fourth corrections 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 officials in attendance today were: Hughes; Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr.; Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler; Mercer County First Assistant Prosecutor Janetta Marbrey; Mercer County Warden Charles Ellis; Mercer County Community College President Dr. Patricia C. Donohue; and George Meyer, Hopewell Township Police Chief and President of the County Chiefs of Police Association.
During training, the class studied in disciplines such as use of force, firearms, and hostage negotiation, among others.

Timmy B. Swain of Ewing 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 the 20s to the 40s, they formed a tight-knit unit that relied on each other to make it through the academy.

Three cadets also received awards for their excellence in training. Chad Frascella of Hopewell earned the overall academic achievement award; Brian Valyo of Hamilton earned the physical training award; and Keith Williams of Trenton earned the firearms training 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 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 and their hometowns (all from New Jersey). All the graduates will join the Mercer County Department of Corrections.

Nancy Bardachino (Hamilton)
Michael Cardona (Hamilton)
Dominique Connors (Hamilton)
Keith Krasznai (Hamilton)
Richard Morgan (Hamilton)
Brian Valyo (Hamilton)
Sha-Keana Davis (Trenton)
Amirah Harmon (Trenton)
Keith Williams (Trenton)
Priscilla Patterson (Trenton)
Trachell Syphax (Trenton)
Lafayette Sutphin (Trenton)
Matthew Commiso (Ewing)
Michael Mesday (Ewing)
Timmy Swain (Ewing)
Eric Riccitello (Lawrence)
Lee Johnson (Robbinsville)
Chad Frascella (Hopewell)