FTPD Police Youth Week Cadets Graduate

The 2022 class of the Franklin Township Police Department Youth Academy.

A week of physical training, classroom learning and once-in-a-lifetime experiences was capped off at the July 22 Franklin Township Police Department Youth Academy Cadet graduation.

The 15 cadets – down from 22 when the program started – were led into the Franklin Middle School – Sampson G. Smith campus by a bagpiper and drummer and marched smartly to the stage where they took their seats.

Once seated, the cadets sat bolt upright with their hands on top of their thighs and stared straight ahead. They did not move until they were called up for the graduation certificates, or for their special honor awards.

“It’s always a good feeling to see the end results of all of these events that they’ve gone through in the past week and a half,” FTPD Capt. Sean Hebbon told parents and friends gathered for the ceremony.

Referring to the week of physical training and enforced discipline by academy staff, Hebbon said, “What I like about this process … it’s good for us parents to see that these young ones that we hold so sacred and we protect them, they won’t break. They’re strong, and a lot of times they find they’re stronger than they realize.”

To the cadets, he said, “I’m hoping that all of you realize that you can push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. And when you do that, that’s when you get to a level of greatness.”

“Hopefully in this process, you got to push yourself a little beyond what you thought you could do,” Hebbon said.

Hebbon said he also hoped that at lest some of the cadets may be influenced by the program to look at law enforcement as a career.

“I’m hoping that through this experience you got to see and learn enough to say, that might be an option,” he said. “And that option might be you coming here and serving in this community … and taking it to the next level.”

“There is a home here for you if you want it and you fight hard for it,” he said.

FTPD Sgt. Ariel Almora, one of the program’s instructors, thanked the parents for trusting their children to the staff, and “having the belief in us as the staff that we were going to train them, mold them, give them a sense of pride.”

“There were challenges for some, but they faced adversity head-on and came back for more. We gave them ample opportunity to leave .. and they said, ‘more’,” he said.

The program is open to students in the 8th to 12th grades who have not had any “negative interactions” with police.

During the week, the cadets are put through daily physical training, classroom instruction of police procedures and hands-on training experiences.

Students who attended the 2022 academy said they would come back next year.

Arjun Sharma, a student as Central Jersey College Prep Charter School, said he signed up because of his “love for law enforcement.”

“I wanted to learn discipline,” he said.

Meghna Sankar, a student a Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School, said she took the program to “learn different aspects of the police department.”

“It was pretty cool,” she said.

Jude Andrews, a student at FMS-SGS campus, said some of his friends recommended the program to him.

“It seemed like a good experience,” he said. “It was great. We got to engage with a lot of really different people.”

Students who wish to apply for next summer’s academy can do so at the FTPD web site when the application process opens in the Spring.

The graduating cadets were:

  • Camryn Barksdale – 1st Squad Leader
  • Vraj Bhagat
  • Kayla Robertson
  • Adrian Cedeno
  • Joseph Villuri – 3rd Squad Leader, PT Award
  • Lundyn Robertson
  • Brayan Lucas
  • Meghna Sankar – 2nd Squad Leader, PT Award
  • Axel Lucas
  • Briana Rosario
  • Aiden Smith
  • Jude Andrews – 4th Squad Leader
  • Arjun Sharma – Most Improved
  • Joseph Guzman-Nicolas
  • Yasmen Zafar – Class Leader

Here are some scenes from the day:

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