This year’s class at the North Bergen Junior Police Academy was the largest yet, with 25 cadets in total. While the youngest ones spent a week learning crime fighting work, seven cadets returned from past years.
The cadets, each entering the middle school grades, went through a crash course from July 10 to 14 that ran the gamut from fingerprinting to polygraphs and processing a crime scene. Along the way, they met officers from the North Bergen and Port Authority Police, the Hudson County Corrections Department, and Sheriff’s Department. The K-9 division also made an appearance.
The academy’s goal is educating select North Bergen students in various police procedures and giving them a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to succeed in law enforcement. Cadets must apply to participate, and include an essay plus recommendation letters from their school administrators.
As part of their training, the cadets attended a live fire demonstration at the North Bergen firing range and visited the Hudson County Correctional Center, the NBPD headquarters and evidence locker, the municipal court, the 9/11 memorial in New York, and more. Plus they completed strenuous “boot camp” training.
In its fifth year
“Officer Joe” Sitty has coordinated and overseen the JPA since 2013, when Police Chief Robert Dowd launched the program in North Bergen.
“I know one of his passions is kids,” Sitty said, explaining why Dowd created the JPA. “We did the program before he was chief and it was disbanded, and as soon as he came in he was like, ‘Listen, I want to start the Junior Police Academy.’ ”
Dowd had strong praise for Sitty’s work on the program, noting he took the time to regularly text each and every cadet parent about their children’s progress.
“He adds a level of comfort to the parents that I think is just invaluable,” Dowd said. “It’s amazing what he does.”
This year, Lt. Cynthia Montero’s daughter participated in the academy for a second time. She said that the experience encouraged her child to shoot for higher goals and shatter them.
“She’s like, ‘I want do West Point, I want to be the first five-star woman general,” Montero said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org