GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Police Department will be starting a junior police academy this coming summer for seventh- through tenth-graders.
Detective Sgt. Daniel Manley, who will be the lead instructor for the one-week academy, hopes to attract 25 Glen Ridge students. Applications will become available at the end of this month. An essay by the student will be required. The essay must explain why a student wants to attend the academy and what they might like to pursue as a career. GRPD Capt. Sean Quinn said the academy is an effort to provide children with a positive impression of law enforcement. Parental permission is, of course, required as are basic wavers.
“When kids watch TV, they get a bad perspective of the police,” Quinn said.
He said a week with real police officers would help to change these unfavorable impressions.
“We would also show all aspects of law enforcement,” Manley said.
He said the junior academy would draw not only on the expertise of the Glen
Ridge department but also state and federal agencies.
The curriculum, which is being formulated now, should pack a lot of learning and involvement in a relatively short time, Manley said. The academy is scheduled for the week of July 10 to 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will take place at Ridgewood Avenue School and Hurrell Field. Manley said with exposure, hopefully some of the children will explore law enforcement as a career and possibly become future GRPD officers.
Manley hopes to have a State Police helicopter land on Hurrell Field for one of the lessons. But there will be daily exercising at the facility, too.
Classroom lessons should be fun. Quinn and Manley are hoping to have a NJ State Police Composite Sketch Unit showing the kids how the police go about creating the face of a suspect from an eyewitness account. There will also be classes on gang awareness and crime-scene preservation.
The students will also be exposed to the legal aspects of law enforcement. A mock trial is planned with participation by the municipal judge, prosecutor and public defender.
There will also be a first-aid lesson with the EMS and a visit by HAZMAT, the hazardous material unit of the Nutley Fire Department. Manley, acknowledging that putting everything together is a lot of work, said a visit by a K-9 unit is also a possibility, as is one by a SWAT team.
According to Quinn, it was Manley who first broached the subject of a junior police academy. He did this during an interviewed for his present position. When he got the promotion, he also got the task of establishing a junior academy job.
The children will also be instructed on what to observe and remember in the event a crime is witnessed — how to become a trained observer.
“If you see a car, get a license plate,” Quinn said. “The academy is a way of putting this out to the community.”
The children will also learn about Internet safety and cyberbullying.
The academy is open to girls and boys. Each one will receive a custom baseball cap, two T-shirts, a water bottle and a bag. Lunch time will be used as an extension of the “Lunch with a Cop” program the department already has in place. A police officer will eat with the children.
Firearm safety will be a topic, although it will involve no actual firearms. Quinn will teach the firearms and crime scene preservation lessons. There may also be a field trip.
Feedback from the children and their parent will be important, Manley said. The response will help shape future junior academy sessions.
Quinn said that how the academy will be funded is being worked out. He did not know if a tuition will be required. But he was sure that the academy would provide children with the opportunity to consider law enforcement at a potential career.