FTPD Police Youth Academy Cadets Graduate At FHS

FTPD Youth Academy cadets lead the Pledge of Allegiance during their July 26 graduation ceremony.

Twenty of the township’s middle and high school students have a better understanding of what it means to be a police officer, thanks to their week training with the FTPD.

The students, raging in grades 7 through 10, spent the week of July 22 going through physical training, classroom learning and hands-on skills development during the police department’s annual Police Youth Academy.

Demonstrations from Homeland Security, the NJ State Police, the Somerset County SWAT team and other agencies punctuated the student’s learning experience.

The week was capped by a July 26 graduation ceremony at Franklin High School, attended by the cadets’ friends and family.

“We are thankful for you all to give us the opportunity to train you, you did a very, very fine job,” FTPD Sgt. Ariel Almora told the cadets. Almora, a former US Marine, served as the cadets’ main physical training instructor.

That they stuck with the program during the entire week is “a testament to their grit and to their will to stay,” he said. “Some were pushed and some used muscles they never used before in their lives, yet they came back.”

“I think they all pretty much told you that they loved it so much they want to come back next year, so we look forward to that,” Almora told the parents.

This was FTPD Ptl. Andrew Welsh’s first year coordinating the program. Welsh thanked the parents for signing up their children, “getting them here every day, thank you for letting us try to educate them, not only in law enforcement, but try to get a little discipline along the way.”

“The young men and women here to my left got to experience a lot of great things this week, and hopefully in the years to come they will experience them again,” he said.

Somerset County Chief of Detectives John Fodor, who is serving as the FTPD police chief, told the cadets that they could turn to him and the other officers in the department for help as they chart their career course.

“Take advantage of us,”he said. “We serve you, we serve your parents, we serve everyone.”

The youth academy graduation “gives me hope and instills a new energy in me and every one of these police officers by working with your children,” he said.

Mayor Phil Kramer told the cadets that what they accomplished was “impressive.”

“The first thing that you did was sign up and that’s a major step, that put you above your peers,” he said. “You then finished, and that put you above your peers more.”

“You are future leaders, you’ve done an impressive thing,” Kramer said. “The fact that you’re taking your summer to do this is an amazing thing that just sets you up above and beyond. You’ve learned some discipline, you’ve learned some teamwork and you’ve learned some skills.”

Kramer also thanked the cadets’ parents and other family members

“These are great kids, they’ve demonstrated that by being here,” he said. “Great kids just don’t happen, they happen because they have great parenting, great brothers and sisters, great aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and friends.”

“It takes a village, this is the village that has raised these great kids,” he said. “Without you, they wouldn’t be here.”

Cadets Amber and Kadin Shea were the only brother-sister team in the academy this year. Amber Shea said she was inspired to join by her older brother who had participated last year.

“I thought it would be fun to try it out and see if I liked it or not,” Amber Shea said. “I enjoyed it.”

She said the best part was watching the canine units do their work.

Her brother, Kadin, said he did it last year because he has an interest in becoming a law enforcement officer. He said he returned this year because it was fun.

“I wanted to do it again to get the same experience,” he said. “It’s definitely a great thing to do, it gives you an interest in what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer and what they have to go through when they’re in the academy.”

Kadin Shea said his favorite parts of the week were the canine and SWAT team demonstrations.

This was Carlos Ramirez’s first time in the academy.

“I wanted to get an experience about how the police feel when they’re in 6-month training,” he said. “It was nice.”

Following are the cadets who graduated:

  • Kiara Bacchus
  • Camryn Barksdale
  • Ty-Anna Dormeus – Class Leader, Excellence Award
  • Brady Cooper
  • Janelle De Los Reyes
  • Samantha Hanlon – 1st Squad Leader
  • Sandra Hernandez Arita
  • Zain Jawad – Merit Award
  • Pranjall Marfatia – Academy Staff Award
  • Isabella Moro
  • Solomon Pasteur – 2nd Squad Leader
  • Freddy Pastrana
  • Fenil Patel – PT Award
  • Yasim Price
  • Carlos Ramirez
  • Zara Salas
  • Ahbay Sankhe
  • Amber Shea – 3rd Squad Leader
  • Kadin Shea
  • Tristan Zehr – 4th Squad Leader

Here are some scenes from the day:

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