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FTPD Youth Week Cadets Learn A Little About Policing

Samantha Hanlon was this year’s FTPD Youth Week Class Leader.

A week of drilling, marching and learning police procedures came to an end on July 23 with the graduation of 24 Police Youth Cadets at the Board of Education administration building.

During the week, the middle and high schoolers experienced simulated drunk driving, learned about the police K-9 Corps and were visited by the New Jersey State Police aviation unit.

A lot packed into five days.

The program, begun in 2010, has become a “passion project” for the department, FTPD Capt. Sean Hebbon told the parents and friends who gathered in the school district’s community room in the Route 27 administration building.

Hebbon said the program has been placed under the umbrella of the department’s Community Policing initiative.

“We’re trying to instill in our Franklin Township family that we have connections here in the police department with all of you and your lives,” he said. “Not in a negative way when something is happening on your block or in your house or in the schools … a connection where we can be involved in the day-to-day activities with theses young folks and the community at large. We are part in the process of raising these youth in Franklin Township.”

“It’s a constant building and growing together,” Hebbon said. “At the end of the day, we’re not just teaching them, we’re actually learning from them as well. We see what their passions are and what their interests are, and we adjust ourselves accordingly.”

Hebbon said one ulterior motive of teh program is to bring Franklin residents in as members of the Franklin Police Department.

“We’re hoping that of this recruit class … we might at some point have out next Franklin Township police officer, or Franklin Township detective, or Franklin Township police chief right here amongst us.” he said. “It’s about investing in our future … what’s better than having someone from here engaged in keeping the community safe right here in our town.”

FTPD Det. Sgt. Rebecca Lea said that although some of the cadets were brought in “kicking and screaming,” the program ended with the same number of cadets with which it started, and some cadets said they wished it lasted longer than a week.

That might happen, Lea said. She said the department is looking at extending the program by a day or two next year.

FTPD Officer Ariel Almora, who was one of the “drill sergeants” during the week, thanked the parents “for entrusting us with your children’s safety, welfare, training and instilling a tiny bit of discipline in their body.”

While this was the first Police Youth Week experience for some of the cadets, for others it was a repeat.

For Class Leader Samantha Hanlon, this was the fourth time she went through the training.

Hanlon said she has plans to join the Marines after high school, then get a job in a local police department.

She said she likes the program because “I get out in the community, make new friends, and make it a positive relationship with officers in the surrounding community.”

Hanlon, a Somerset County Vo-Tech student, said that even though her Mother “kind of forced me into it,” at the end of her first day, “I came back to my mom’s car raving about the entire program. I was so excited about what we did that day. I wasn’t excited about the yelling at first, but then it grew, and then I was excited to go every year.”

Becoming the Class Leader this year gave her a “very powerful” feeling, she said.

This was the first youth week for brothers Brayan and Axel Lucas-Hernandez.

Brayan, a rising sophomore at Franklin High School, said he joined because “I thought it would be a great experience being here.”

“I knew that it would be a lot of screaming and all that, but I felt, why not give it a try,” he said. “I know that in the future I want to be a detective for the Behavioral Analysis Unit.”

Axel, a rising 7th Grader at Franklin Middle School – Sampson G. Smith campus, said he just wanted to give the program a try.

Both brothers said their favorite part of teh week was driving the golf cart while wearing the drunk goggles.

Aside from Hanlon and the Lucas-Hernandez brothers, graduates were:

  • Zayla Salas – 1st Squad Leader; PT Award
  • Joaquin Covino – Most Improved
  • Josiah Holt
  • Marie Szubiak
  • Tyreek Thomas
  • Zara Salas
  • Leanna Cromer – 2nd Squad Leader; PT Award
  • Kamel Pearson
  • Samaira Uddin
  • Farhaan Mirza
  • Shane Casamalhuapa
  • Camryn Barksdale
  • Solomon Pasteur – 3rd Squad Leader
  • Faisal Mirza
  • Aleesa Nardone
  • Eric Campbell
  • Eliaseen Ali
  • Liam Hanily – 4th Squad Leader
  • Coral Lowrie
  • Jose Juarez-Hillsman – Most Improved
  • Jake Pino

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