|Toms River, N.J. –Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, presented badges to New Jersey’s newest state troopers during graduation ceremonies at Pine Belt Arena this morning.
The 154th New Jersey State Police class started with 200 recruits and graduated 149 troopers. Of this graduating class, approximately one-third are minority graduates, approximately 80% have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, 40% played college sports, 25% have prior law enforcement experience, and 21% have prior military experience (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, and Coast Guard).
The 154th class completed 24 weeks of strenuous physical and academic training consisting of exhaustive classroom and practical training scenarios. The recruits participated in extensive training and role-playing exercises focused on motor vehicle stops, domestic violence situations, human dignity, and cultural diversity. In the area of cultural diversity, the trooper recruits received detailed instruction from both State Police instructors and instructors from community and cultural organizations.
The life of a New Jersey State Police recruit is challenging in many ways. The New Jersey State Police Training Academy is one of the few residential academies in the nation. Recruits report to the academy on Monday, and they do not return home until dismissal on Friday. During this time, recruits are away from their families during significant life events. While this class was in the academy, nine recruits endured a family death, one recruit got married, and 10 recruits got engaged. With all of these events happening, the graduating recruits maintained their focus and concentration to successfully complete their training.
"Today's graduating class includes approximately one-third minority graduates, which continues a welcome diversity trend within the State Police ranks,” said Governor Chris Christie. “Together with the 152nd and 153rdClasses, these new troopers represent another step in our continuing effort to develop and maintain a State Police force that reflects the diverse population it serves.”
“The State Police is not only recognized as one of the finest statewide law enforcement agencies in the nation and the most visible symbol of law enforcement throughout our state, but every individual who wears a trooper's badge is recognized as a leader -- on the road, in his or her neighborhood, and in the community at large,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. "That is why it is vital that those leaders not only receive exhaustive training, but also reflect the character and composition of our great state.”
"The intensive training that troopers received and the friendships they forged over the past 24 weeks will stay with them for their entire careers and beyond," said Colonel Fuentes. "The life of a New Jersey State Trooper is more challenging than ever, but in return they are rewarded by protecting and serving our communities. As these men and women proudly wear our uniform, they will be viewed as role models and leaders. Being a New Jersey State Trooper is more than a job; it's a responsibility to lead by example."
In addition to honoring all graduates from the 154th class, Colonel Fuentes presented the following awards:
The winner of the “High Academic Award” is Trooper Matthew Dye of Mount Laurel, N.J. Throughout the academy training program he achieved an overall average of 93.1%.
The winner of the “High Marksman Award” is Trooper Nicholas Marzocca of Mays Landing, N.J. During firearms training, he had 399 hits out of a possible 400 rounds.
The winner of the “Outstanding Recruit Award” is Trooper Bradford Hippe of Matawan, N.J. The outstanding recruit is selected by the academy instructors.
The winner of the “High Physical Award” is Trooper Dennis Ehret of Williamstown, N.J. During the physical agility testing, he achieved an overall average of 96.6%.
The winner of the “Lieutenant James Walsh Award” is Trooper Richard Tabor of Elizabeth, N.J. This award is presented to the person who exhibited dedication, commitment, loyalty, and unselfishness during training.
The winner of the “Peer Outstanding Recruit Award” is Trooper Pierre Toma of East Brunswick, N.J. This award is presented to the person selected by his or her peers.
- The winner of the Dennis Zilinski Military Service Award is Trooper Paul Volpe, of Glen Rock, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit who is currently serving or who has served in the U.S. military, and demonstrated active support and service to the class, and exemplifies the State Police’s service to the citizens of this state.
At today’s ceremony, Trooper II Jason Serrano, Trooper Luis Cardenas, and Trooper Mohamed Hussein, each received the NJSP Citation of Meritorious Service for their extraordinary rescue of Lawrence Scherf on August 19.
The troopers responded to a tractor-trailer crash on the New Jersey Turnpike in Ridgefield Borough, Essex County. When they arrived, Mr. Scherf was severely injured floating in Overpeck Creek located underneath that portion of the Turnpike. They worked together quickly and decisively, placing themselves in harm’s way, by getting into the water in full uniform and pulling Mr. Scherf to safety.
Additional honorees were Staff Sergeant John Kampo and Trooper Matthew Magrone, who were both awarded the NJSP Certificate of Commendation for their outstanding efforts in the performance of their duties.
On June 28, 2011, SSGT. Kampo arrived at an accident scene on the New Jersey Turnpike in Springfield Township, Burlington County and discovered a driver trapped inside of a burning vehicle. SSGT. Kampo entered the burning vehicle, selflessly risking his own life, and rescued the driver.
On September 13, 2011, Trooper Matthew Magrone stopped a vehicle with three occupants on Interstate 195 in Jackson Township, Ocean County. Of the two juveniles inside the vehicle, one was driving without a license. Tpr. Magrone was able to determine that the 54-year-old man, who was in the front-passenger seat, had no legitimate relationship with either juvenile. Further investigation led to the discovery that the suspect was seeking inappropriate interactions with the juveniles. As a result of this car stop, the suspect was charged with endangering the welfare of child.
Each applicant applying to the State Police is required to have a Bachelor’s Degree, or alternatively, a minimum of 60 college credits, plus two years of work experience. The probationary troopers will be assigned to stations throughout the state, and over the next 11 weeks, the new troopers will begin their careers under the watchful eye of their Trooper-Coaches and supervisors.
The following is a breakdown of the 154th class
White male 96
White female 7
Hispanic male 19
Hispanic female 1
Black male 16
Black female 1
Asian male 4
American Indian male 1
American Indian female 1
Other male 2
Other female 1