BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Police Department held its third annual graduation ceremony for its high school-aged Junior Police Academy students. The youngsters are called recruits, and over two weeks they were barked at by supervising officers, came to attention, performed calisthenics, and were introduced to the procedures of law enforcement agencies, including the NJ State Police and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The graduation ceremony was held at Bloomfield High School before an attentive audience of family and friends.
The Junior Police Academy is under the direction of Lt. Naomi Zepeda, the Special Operations Division commander. She was assisted by Officer Jessy Aponte. In addressing the graduates, Capt. Gary Peters, Patrol Bureau commander, said the most important purpose of the academy is to create a positive partnership between the police and Bloomfield youth.
“I hope you had fun and some of you decide to become police officers,” Peters said. “Remember that the decisions you make impact your future.”
Zepeda told the group the previous two weeks were not easy, but she could see that they all had grown. There were 50 students in the class.
“All recruits were pushed to their limits,” she said. “I hope what you learned will remain with you for the rest of your lives.”
Zepeda reminded the students that whatever future path they were to follow, they would always be welcomed at the BPD.
“Whether in personal or professional life, we will always be there,” she said.
Zepeda thanked her training officers. She said they put love into the academy while rearranging their lives to be part of it. She thanked Aponte and Brianna DeMaio, secretary to the safety director.
“Brianna is at headquarters, but I don’t want her effort to go unnoticed,” she said.
Zepeda also thanked the parents of the children for helping to create the academy program by allowing their children to take part in it. She said that two recruits were chosen to act as commanding officer and executive officer. They were Charles Tynan and Katlyn Ortez, respectively. These positions were new to the academy this year. Recruits who showed the most improvement of the two weeks were Christopher Kelly and Katlyn Ortez. Another recruit, Daniel Winter, had requested the opportunity to speak and did. Daniel thanked the instructors and his fellow-recruits for a fulfilling two weeks. He said he was looking forward to attending the academy again next summer.
Following the ceremony, a light lunch was served.The BPD also sponsors an academy for middle school students. Those recruits had their graduation ceremony at the high school two weeks ago.